Benue killings: Lawyers, journalists protest in Abuja, demand Buhari, Ortom’s intervention

Governor Ortom and President Buhari

The Association of Lawyers from Conflict Zone in liaison with the Association of Igede Media Professionals Thursday staged a peaceful protest against alleged killing of residents of Ukpute, Ocoro and communities in Oju local government area of Benue state by Bonta (Tiv) militia since last year.

Addressing journalists during the protest held at the Unity Fountain Abuja, President of the Association of Lawyers from Conflict Zone, John Owulo Esq. said “The protest became inevitable as a result of the ominous indifference of Governor Samuel Ortom to the incessant attacks, destruction of lives and property of innocent residents of the aforementioned communities.”

The lawyers drew the attention of “President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspector-General of Police, International Community and other relevant stakeholders in the protection of lives and property, to the continuous killings of the people of Ukpute and other contiguous (lgede) communities by Bonta (Tiv) militias in Benue state since June, 2020, while our Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom remains ominously indifferent.”

Continuing, the lawyers said: “Mr. President and other concerned authorities may recall that this crisis was the reason for the gruesome murder of 11 soldiers and an officer of the Nigerian Army by Bonta militias in April, 2021, while on a peace-keeping mission to the crisis area. Shortly after the burial of the slain soldiers, Bonta people resumed hostilities and are continuing with killings, maiming, looting, raping and destruction of properties of the people of Ukpute and other neighbouring lgede communities.

“With hearts full of worries and utter state of despair, we rise today as people and lawyers, media professionals and concerned men and women of Igede extraction in Benue state to stage this protest, calling on the Government and people of Nigeria, the United Nations, Amnesty International, human rights organizations and other humanitarian institutions to not only speak against, but quickly stop the incessant, unprovoked killings of our people by Bonta community of Konshisha Local Government, Benue State.”

They recalled that, “On Tuesday 20h July, 2021, the crisis took a new dimension when Bonta people invaded a neutral lgede speaking community (Ochoro) in Konshisha Local Government Area. That community existed from pre-colonial times and was part of Konshisha Local Government Council at creation in 1976. It has never been part of the crisis and the only known reason for the attack is they speak lgede language. The community Chief, Dennis Okpe ljoko, was abducted and gruesomely murdered while bathing and several others were killed with some missing till date.”