Miyetti Allah can’t establish a security outfit – Ujege



Chief Edward Ujege is the immediate-past President General of Benue sociocultural organization, the Mzough-U-Tiv. In this interview, he speaks on a number of issues including Miyetti Allah’s plot to establish vigilante group across states of the federation, 2023 presidency and Governor Samuel Ortom’s call for responsible citizens to carry sophisticated weapons, among others issues. CEPHAS IORHEMEN reports




Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, recently called on the Federal Government to allow responsible Nigerians to own sophisticated arms to be able to confront criminals. What is your take on that?


There is a law for Nigerians to own certain grade of arms under police supervision but to have assault weapons like they have in America, I’m not a security expert but you will see that even in America where their educational standard is much high, you see them killing themselves on the streets. While I would like to go with my governor, I really don’t have any opinion to offer because I don’t have the expertise in that field.


There have been calls in some quarters for Mr. President to sack the service chiefs for their inability to contain growing insecurity across the country. What is your suggestion in this regard?


There’s one thing about life and that is that everything will change. The only thing that doesn’t change is change. Even if you are a child, one day you will become an adult. I think the service chiefs have lived their time and there’s need to try some other hands even for change sake.


There are capable Nigerians, who can do that job. You know, security is not a matter of an individual; you need the cooperation of the society. If the society is asking you to get out and allow somebody come in and you refuse, they may not give you the support that you’re supposed to get even if you’re an expert in the field.


So, unless otherwise, I would rather urge the President review the situation critically. In as much as one of the cardinal points the President made when he was coming to power was that he would provide security in this country, the situation was even better than what it is today.


So, if his aim is to provide security, he should use everything in his power to ensure that kidnapping, banditry, Boko Haram, stealing in government became things of the past. There’s a lot of fraud going on among officials in government like we are hearing in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), among others. The service chiefs may be very good in whatever they are doing but they need the cooperation of the society.


So, if the society is telling them to go and rest, they should go. They should try some other hands, may be it would be better. And if it’s not good, then we try again. We can sack about three or four groups like that and bring in new people with fresh ideas.


What is your reaction to the plot by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore to establish Fulani vigilante group in all states in the country?


Miyetti Allah cannot establish a national security outfit because the constitution does not support it. There’s only one Federal Government and that Federal Government is allowed to maintain all the states’ security apparatus; the Army, Navy, Air force, the Police and others.


So, if Miyetti Allah is trying to duplicate the Federal Government; I will be disappointed if our President is unable to call them to order because he has the constitutional power to maintain a national security outfit. Even the states can only make laws within their own jurisdiction. Like the South-West, they wanted a regional security outfit and they were told categorically by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation that they couldn’t do it.


So, how can Miyetti Allah do that? Are they running a parallel government with President Buhari? I think that shouldn’t happen. Let me tell you, I wish I were still the President General of Mzough- U-Tiv and also the leader of the three socio-cultural organizations in Benue State. Even if the governor is doing nothing about it, we would have mobilised against it and this time, it will be war to finish. We would have fought them to a standstill.


More than one year in the second tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari; do you think he has performed up to the expectation of Nigerians, especially those who saw him as the Messiah in 2015?


I think it would have been better but it has been made worse by this Coronavirus pandemic. So, while we talk about rating or otherwise of the president’s performance, we should look at what is happening generally. But just like Oliver Twist, we wish it were better.


Which areas would you want him to pay more attention to?


There are two things that will make this country to progress; one is the natural resources and secondly is the human resources. How the human beings turn the resources into useful ventures is important. The amount of money they’re investing into education, to me, is too low because if you don’t train the people or tell them what to do, then you have miscreants and kidnappers and the rest of them. All these things are coming because people don’t have jobs to do or they don’t have focus.


Societies where education is highly valued like Britain, although there are crimes, but they are not on large scale due to the fact that they are well educated. They had been told right from primary school that if you do this, this is the consequence.


The police there know that they shouldn’t take any kobo from anybody and those who work in offices, know that they are occupying those offices in trust. To me, education is the key. It’s just like the Bible says seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all other things shall be added. So, education is the key factor to take this county to what we think it should be.


What do you make of the clamour for a president of Igbo extraction come 2023?


There’s nothing wrong with an Igbo presidency. You shouldn’t ask me that question because I will tell you emphatically that yes, I want an Igbo presidency because an Igbo man brought me up when I was a small boy. I was a house boy in 1952 and he trained me and I didn’t know.


At that time, we thought we were suffering but it wasn’t like that. He used to give us buckets first thing in the morning to go and fetch water, then come and sweep the house, arrange everything, help him to sell and so forth. By so doing, we were learning.


We have a lot of people who are good enough to lead this country irrespective of religion or zone. Leadership is not the exclusivity of any one group of persons because I have seen some very decent Igbo men. I’ve seen some very decent Yoruba people, I’ve seen some very decent Hausa, Fulani, Tiv people and so on. I’ve seen decent people who can rule this country and they have the ability.


So, an Igbo presidency is very good if the right person is given the opportunity. Some people have turned politics a money-making venture, but we have some people who have gone into politics and for service.


For instance, our governor in Benue State, Samuel Ortom, no matter what anybody will talk about him, to be able to stand up and say, look, I’m going to protect my people, I’m going to make this anti-open grazing law, with all the oppression and federal might, he stood firm and up till now he is still standing firm. He had no godfather as far as I know; he stood on his own, asked the people a question and the people answered him in the affirmative.


The Tiv/Jukun crisis, the farmers/herders conflict as well as the crises in Tyomu area of Makurdi and criminality in the Sankera area to mention but a few have lingered. As the immediate past President General of Mzough-U-Tiv, are you not worried about these crises?


I am extremely worried about crisis anywhere in Tiv land and even beyond; in Southern Kaduna, North-East, South-South, everywhere there’s crisis and killing of innocent people. It’s really very bad.


Coming home, the one in Taraba State, I think the buck stops on the table of the governor of that state. If the governor is unable to settle that matter, I will blame him. I had cause to tell him this to his face. Everyone living in his domain is his citizen and he should take care of all of them. If he really wants to do that, he has the resources to do so. But if he is not interested, he will create more confusion.


So, in Taraba State, as far as I am concerned, it is the problem of the governor of that state, not even the commissioner because nobody else can solve that problem but him. He has a unique opportunity to do that. If he succeeds, people will applaud him, if he doesn’t succeed, people will blame him.


When you come back home on Tiv conflicts, I dare say that it is the worst thing that is happening. We have always, and we do call our people to order. The one that is happening in Sankera is being orchestrated by thieves, armed robbers, our children that have gone astray and they’re everywhere, not only in Benue State.


It happens in every other state but the one that is a conflict within ourselves. We have always appealed and spoken to them and spoken to the traditional rulers to get their people to maintain peace and we have to continuously do that.


Again, education is very important here. Some of them are fighting for land; who is going to inherit this land forever? We are all going to die. Some of us may not even be buried because you don’t know how you’re going to die. Our forefathers who were here on this land all died and left. So, this place is just a temporary abode for every person. It is ignorance that makes people to fight over land.




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