The Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Paul Unongo, has accused former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of being the chief financier and most influential member of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, the apex body of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, Punchng reports.
He, therefore, called on Atiku, who is a prince of the Tiv Court, to caution the herdsmen, who have been slaughtering hundreds of people in the country.
On friday, Unongo said, “I am aware that the most powerful person in Miyetti Allah is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,who wants to be the next president. If they are fighting for power and Atiku wants to create problems for Buhari, I don’t know.
There are so many possibilities. The most powerful person who finances the Miyetti Allah is Abubakar Atiku and he is a prince of the Tiv Court. The Tiv gave him a traditional title, meaning ‘the biggest shade of the Tiv people’.
This implies that the Tiv people should be able to run to Atiku who will protect them. This is the man who heads Miyetti Allah and is the greatest financier of this organisation. .
He has more cattle than anybody in Miyetti Allah. It is an establishment of the big people, a very rich group of Nigerians and they pack small boys to take their cattle all over the place and then buy all these arms to give herdsmen to go and kill people, and the government is doing nothing!”
When asked if he was sure that Atiku was the most influential member of the Miyetti Allah, Unongo said the former Vice President told him personally that he was an influential member of the association. .
In reacting to the elders claim, Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, debunked the allegation that he is the chief financier of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).
The association is the national body of Fulani herdsmen.
Paul Ibe, Atiku’s spokesman, in a statement on Friday, described the allegation against Abubakar, who holds Tiv traditional title of Zege Mule U Tiv, as sad and false.
Ibe said it was disheartening that in this period of intense grief in Benue State, Chief Paul Unongo would choose to level false allegations on the person of Abubakar.
Unongo was the former Chairman, Governing Board of Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).
Ibe said while Abubakar was proud to be Fulani, he is a thoroughly detribalized Nigerian that would never favour one ethnic group over another.
He recalled that in 2017 during the massive flood in Benue which affected over 100,000 families, Abubakar, donated cash to the Benue Government for the care of the victims.
He said, “This is fitting for a man whose Tiv traditional title means ‘the biggest shade of the Tiv people’.
“It is strange that Chief Paul Unongo chose to neglect that act of love and care from the Waziri Adamawa to the people of Benue.
“Not only did the Zege Mule U Tiv make a financial donation, he also called on the Federal Government to do more to assist the flood ravaged communities.
“Let it be known that though Waziri Adamawa is a Fulani, he is not a member of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria nor has he ever been a member.
“He has also never discussed about that group with Chief Paul Unongo.
“Furthermore, Abubakar enjoins that a thorough investigation be made into the killings in Benue, and that anyone found culpable be made to bear the full weight of the law.”
Ibe added that it would be a very sad day when a supposed elder chooses to make mileage of the sufferings of the people of Benue State who have had to endure the impunity of these killings for far too long.
Abubakar, according to Ibe, prayed for the souls of the departed.
“As a traditional title holder of Tiv land, Abubakar, assures the entire people of Benue (including the Idoma and Igede) that he would do everything in his power to bring justice, relief and compensation their way”, he added.