Presidential directive: Was IGP in Benue for less than 24 hours? By AYUBA AHMED




Idris

When news of another round of bloodletting and destruction of properties in Benue state on the eve of New Year, not a few critical observers would have realized that the fi re ignited would not die off so soon.
The number of casualties, at 73, was awesomely high especially in view of the reports that the alleged perpetrators were herdsmen of Fulani stock and the victims, people of Tiv ethnic group.
It is pertinent that the Guma-Logo incident was coming after a similar gory scenario in Agatu in 2016 in the same Benue state.
Coming at a point when the drum of elections had began to sound, it was also clear those opportunists and political scavengers would be in frenzy in their dance steps to make political capitals out of the sordid, unfortunate situation.
Call it celebrating the death of unfortunate victims of calamities; it is an established practice that political gladiators in Nigeria are ever so ready to advance their selfish, morbid interests in the wake of such occurrences.
To those known for their trademarks of tirades against imaginary Hausa/ Fulani hegemonic agenda, the sad roundly condemnable carnage was yet a phase in an agenda of pogrom or extermination of a people by those whose planned mission is to take over their land.
Governor Samuel Ortom, understandably, saw in the massacre a bolster to his 2019 re-election bid.
Do not blame him as such because, it is in the nature of politicians to use misfurtunes of the masses to feather their political nests.
The blood of the poor and oppressed is nothing but manure that nurtures their political flowers.
He suddenly found his voice, crying to high heavens; bemoaning the killing of his people by those he described as alien invaders.
In response to the unfortunate incident, President Muhammadu Buhari, in addition to ordering increased security presence in the state, directed the Inspector General, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to Benue state with the mandate of deescalating the crisis and ensure perpetrators were brought to justice.
Promptly, the Inspector General was reported in the mass media to have relocated to Benue.
While there, the public was told in the print media and shown on the television networks of the meetings held by the IGP with the governor, community leaders and other stakeholders on the first day of his arrival, which was January 10, 2018.
In addition, very widely reported in the news, was the allegation by the governor before the IGP to the effect that, the Benue state government had it on, “good and reliable intelligence” that the suspected gunmen who carried out the attacks were “camped” in the border town of Doma, from where they crossed over to Benue state.
Doma was also said to be the site of training and arms depots for the assailants.
The following day, January 11, the IGP was again reported to have made a shuttle to Nasarawa state where he visited Doma obviously, to verify the allegations by Ortom.
It was a one-day visit during which Idris also held a meeting with the governor, traditional rulers and a cross section of community leaders of Nasarawa state in the state capital, Lafia.
There was also the widely reported meeting of the IGP with the traditional rulers, community leaders the refugees at a camp for Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, while he was in Doma.
All the people that spoke at the meetings with the IGP in Doma, debunked the allegation of the town as arms depot and a camp for armed militia.
Doma is a heterogeneous community with a signifi cant population of Tiv ethnic group and it is remarkable that one of the people who debunked the allegation, is a younger brother to a serving commissioner in Benue state.
Ortom would not, of course, be happy that the IGP had inadvertently punctured his allegation of complicity of Doma town and by extension, Nasarawa state.
Idris would also have further incurred the wrath of Ortom with his other statements and actions during his duty tour carried out in compliance with the presidential directive.
One of such remarks by the IGP was his appeal to all communities in Benue state to “imbibe the spirit of harmonious co-existence”.
It would certainly have been sweet music in the ears of the governor if Idris had pointedly held out the Fulani herdsmen as the aggressors that need to be taught lessons on how to peacefully live with their hosts.
Secondly, rather than echoing the perception of the governor and people of like minds that the fratricidal conflicts in Benue are between an invading aliens and indigenes, the IGP went to town with his view that the bloody altercations were best regarded as “intercommunal”.
Finally, Mr. Idris appeared to have gone for Ortom’s jugular with his reported opinion that the anti-open grazing law in Benue state was at the bottom of the resurgence of violence between herdsmen and farmers in the state.
In a nutshell, the incontrovertible account of the IGPs visit to Benue state as reported in the media spanned a time space of more than 72 hours, January 10-13, 2018.
The allegation by Governor Ortom before the President at a gathering of stakeholders in Makurdi last week, would therefore appear, a perplexing twist of what the public was made to believe by the nation’s media.
In which case, Ortom’s action can be viewed as a manifestation of pent up anger and contempt.
That appears the logical explanation, why Ortom would want to present to the President his own version of the IG’s stay in Benue following the Presidential directive.
Surely, the President would be angry with his Inspector General for flaunting his order to relocate to the zone of crisis.
And that much was what happened; a triumph of sorts for Ortom.
However, not a few keen observers of the political barometer in Benue state believe that partisan considerations for the 2019 polls are the underlying currents in the drama that has been playing out since the latest eruption of violence in the state.
In which case, IGP Idris is merely a decoy by some people engaged in a project of bolstering their political profile.
Ahmed writes from Kaduna

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