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APC accuses Ortom, Livestock Guards, of complicity in Benue killings

From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi

The All Progressives Congress, (APC), in Benue state, has accused Governor Samuel Ortom led government of being responsible for the killing of innocent Benue citizens by herdsmen militia across the state.

Chairman of the party, Austin Agada made the allegation on Tuesday, during a press conference at the party Secretariat, in Makurdi.

Agada, who was flanked by other party leaders and critical stakeholders, alleged that the livestock guard acting on the instruction of Governor Samuel Ortom, have engaged in rustling cows belonging to the Fulani’s and angering them to carry our reprisal attacks on innocent Benue citizens.

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Their speech was tagged “Cow Rustling, Security Breaches And The Renewed Spate Of Killings Of The Innocent Ihyarev People Of Gwer West, Makurdl and Guma Local Government Areas Of Benue State by the Fulani Militia; An Appeal for Restraint on Both Sides and Other Related Matters.”

The APC said the issues are capable of truncating all the plans and efforts of Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to give Nigerians and in deed, Benue State, a credible election, if not immediately nipped in the bud.

“We the undersigned leaders of APC are constrained to once again bring to the attention of Nigerians, the increased wave of killings of Innocent citizens of Benue State especially the people of Ihyarev extraction and appeal to both Governor Ortom and the Fulani militia to tread the path of peace and refrain from all activities that have led to the escalation of security breaches in the aforementioned Local Government Areas.”

The APC said the “appeal has become necessary in the light of the renewed rustling of cows by Governor Ortom’s Livestock Guards and Community Volunteer Guards under the guise of enforcing the Open Grazing Prohibition Law on the one hand and the Fulani militia’s counter attacks against our innocent people who have no links with either rustling of cows or the so called enforcement of the law.

“It must be emphasized that the Implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law which targets cows instead of the Fulanis who shepherd the cows leaves much to be desired. It is therefore our contention that Governor Ortom should immediately review this mode of enforcing the law and go after the violators of the law.

They lamented that the Ihyarev nation has suffered untold hardship as Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs) under Governor Ortom’s watch as a result of this episodic circle of cow rustling and Fulani militia attacks especially during election seasons.

He said the situation has led them to the conclusion that the attacks are predetermined to achieve a particular political objective.

The APC insisted that “With the 2023 General elections around the corner, Community Volunteer Guards have systematically embarked on cow rustling in Gwer-west, Makurdi and Guma LGA under the instruction of Governor Ortom with the attendant consequences of spontaneous Fulani militia killing of one person In Mbapa ward of Gwer-West LGA, eight persons in Makurd! on the 19th January 2023 and eight persons in Guma LGA on the 20th January, 2023 all within the Ihyarev dominated communities.

 “The prevailing atmosphere of politically induced insecurity in most parts of Benue State calls for the urgent concern of all Benue patriots.

The party also said available information indicate that on Wednesday 18th January, 2023 over 600 herds of cattle were rustled in Sengev ward of Gwer-west LGA and kept at the Local Government Guest House at Naka.

“The objective was to trigger reprisal attacks against Gwer-West people by the herders. We roundly condemn this development and urge Governor Ortom to desist from spilling more blood.”

The party rather suggested that the Governor should immediately implement the General Atom Kpera committee’s recommendation of 2014 for peace to reign.

They also called on the leadership of the Fulanis in Nigeria to immediately direct the Fulani militia to lay down arms and allow peace to reign.

They further called on security agencies to demonstrate capacity in intelligence gathering so as to forestall any further attacks against Ihyarev people in cold blood.

When contacted, the Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom on Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, said they would respond after a careful look at the allegations.