By Mazino Dickson
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) says any attempt to re-introduce the Inland Water Ways Bill in the 9th National Assembly must be resisted and rejected by senators and representatives from the region.
The President of MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus, made the call in Abuja at a one day conference on ethnic nationalities.
The conference which had its theme as “Reawakening” was organised by the leadership of MBF.
According to him, the bill seeks to take away all river ways from the state governments control to Federal Government control.
Bitrus said that the bill was drafted to take away ancestral lands in middle belt for the exclusive use of the Federal Government.
He said that the people of the zone were so lucky that the 8th National Assembly had refused to pass the bill.
He also said that the MBF was saddened by reports of killings of people by other middle belt residents of Taraba.
“We appeal to both Tiv and Jukun brothers of Taraba to embrace peace irrespective of the provocation and previous losses incurred.
“We must resist external influences aimed at dividing and weakening us,’’ he said.
He noted that the farming communities in Taraba should be allowed to embark on their farming activities for the production of staple food in the region and Nigeria in general.
He said that the killings in the region had continued to bedevil the region in spite of the presence of security agencies.
He also said that there was an urgent need for security agencies to effect real change on their strategies of curbing insecurity.
Dr Nankin Bagudu, Director, League for Human Rights, a non-governmental organisation, in his presentation, said that leaders in the region ought to agree on forming a common front to fight inequality and injustice.
Dr Obadiah Mailafia, former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), also decried the killings of people in the region and other parts the country.
Telling the panel members that the permanent resolution of the land dispute, to a large extent, begins and ends with them, the governor gave the panel the following terms reference: to look into the remote and immediate causes of the land dispute; to determine the extent of damage done to private and public properties.
Others are to recommend to the state government appropriate ways of settling the dispute and to make other recommendations which the panel may find necessary.