Youth attack Ortom, Police arrest 8
Perennial killings must stop – Dogara
Buhari orders clampdown
By Bode Olagoke, Abdullahi M. Gulloma and Joshua Egbodo Abuja The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has expressed concerns over Tuesday’s killing of over 20 people in Benue state, describing it as an open invitation to civil war. The dastardly act was believed to have been carried out by some suspected herdsmen in Logo and Guma local government areas, with several others injured in the melee.
In a strongly worded statement issued in Abuja yesterday, the state chairman of the party, Comrade Abba Yaro, described the killing as an attempt to spark off second civil war in Nigeria. He insisted that “it is a clear case of ethnic cleansing around the Benue Valley which must be stopped immediately.”
The party called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately call the herders to order, and direct security agents to fish out the killers. Yaro further appealed to all sons and daughters of the state, irrespective of party affiliations, to rise in defense of their Benue community. Yaro said: “This is above party politics, it is human lives. How can you kill a pregnant woman and removed the unborn child, yet slaughtered it?
It is barbaric, unspeakable and generally unpalatable.” He said the anti-open grazing law in Benue was not targeted at any section of the people but for the general security of the state, a measure against cattle rustling and a solution to herders/farmers’ clash. “The implementation is ongoing, and we are in support of our governor, we are not deterred.
The antiopen grazing law has come to stay. Nigerians should not see the killings as a Benue problem but national crisis, the absence of peace in Benue is an absence of peace in Nigeria. “We must treat it as a national ethnic cleansing by the Fulani and collectively pressurise Mr. President to put an end to it.
If Boko Haram can be defeated, IPOB stopped, Fulani killings can be stopped,” he noted. The APC leader further called on the Chief of Army Staff , Lt.-General Buratai, the Interior Minister, Lt.- General Danbazau, Director General of the Department of State Service, Lawal Daura, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to protect Benue communities or “we rise in self-defence, which will amount to the second civil war.”
“If the Fulani are not called to order by the relevant authorities to stop the ethnic cleansing like the lawless Fulani are doing, Benue people shall take laws into their hands in self-defence.”
In a sharp reaction, angry youth yesterday attacked Governor Ortom at the Wurukum roundabout where they mounted a road block in protest.
The youth converged on the popular Food Basket roundabout in Wurukum, Makurdi, the state capital, with various posters, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to save them from further attacks. The protest led to a heavy gridlock in the area, causing obstruction for motorists travelling through the axis to the north and southern regions of the country.
The roundabout serves as exit to major routes, including Abuja, Gboko/Cross River, and Enugu roads. On getting the news of the protest, the governor who was in a Security Council meeting, quickly rushed out with some council members to address the irate youth Upon sighting the governor, however, the mob became visibly charged than before, and asked the governor not to address them.
Rather, they insisted on seeing President Buhari in Benue to address their challenges. With temper rising, the governor persisted in calming the protesters, a development that further angered them and in the process, hauled stones at the state chief executive and his team.
In the ensuing melee, the governor’s security aides hurriedly guarded him into a waiting Hilux van and drove off .
Briefing newsmen at the People’s House after the incident, Governor Ortom described the situation as rowdy, but said he was himself angry and understood why the youths were angry. He lamented the havoc the herdsmen had caused in the state, and called on the federal government to be proactive in protecting people of the state.
“We have reported Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, asked security agencies to arrest them but nothing has been done about it.”
Eight herdsmen arrested
Meanwhile, the state Police command has arrested eight herdsmen over the tragic incident.
The command’s Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Yamu, announced this in a statement made available to Blueprint yesterday in Makurdi. “Eight herdsmen, six in Guma and two in Logo, have been arrested in connection with the attacks,” the police spokesman said. He added that the command had made additional deployments to the trouble area, to forestall further occurrence and restore the people’s confidence. He said: “They attacked Tomater village in Sengev council ward, Akor village in Nzorov council ward and Bakin Kwata village in Umanger council ward of Guma Local Government Area. “Among those killed were seven (7) members of Benue State Livestock Guards, their vehicle burnt and an uncertain number of persons injured in separate attacks between 31/12/2017 and 02/01/2018.”
Buhari orders clampdown
Also yesterday, President Buhari commiserated with Governor Ortom over the killings While expressing sadness at the “wicked and callous” attacks on innocent children, the president assured the governor and people of the state that relevant security agencies have been directed to do everything possible to arrest those behind the regrettable incidents and avert further attacks.
“This is one attack too many, and everything must be done to provide security for the people in our rural communities,” a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted the president as saying. The President also commiserated with families of the victims and wished the injured speedy recovery.
Dogara seeks overhaul of internal security
Similarly, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has expressed concern over the heinous and wanton killing of innocent people in some parts of Benue.
The killings, he said, coming shortly after the whole world was outraged by similar ones in Agatu in same Benue state and another in Rivers state, is a clear indication that it is high time all the security apparatuses of the country were mobilsed to put a stop to the dastardly act.
“Enough is enough. No reason whatsoever, can be enough justifi cation for such dastardly act”, the speaker said in a statement by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan yesterday. He recalled that a traditional ruler in Kaduna state was recently killed by same “unknown gunmen”. The killing of the second class chief, the speaker noted, came few days after several people were also killed during a Christmas carol in Jama’a local government of the state.
“It is very worrisome that at a time government is taking every step to tame the security challenges in the country, there seems to be a steady deterioration of security of lives and properties all over the country. “This is totally unacceptable and the legislature is determined to hold all authorities vested with the protection of lives and properties accountable.
” While commiserating with the people and government of Benue, Kaduna and Rivers states at these most trying moments, Dogara assured Nigerians that the legislature will not allow the lives of the victims go in vain.
The speaker therefore called on the president to immediately deploy adequate security personnel to the hotspots in order to halt the trend. He also called for overhaul of Nigeria’s internal security architecture that will check the prevailing mass murders, killings and kidnappings.