Peace Corps Protest In Benue During Buhari’s Visit

Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s continuous refusal to assent to the Peace Corp bill members took to streets of Makurdi, Benue during Buhari’s visit appealing the President to reconsider.

They wielded placards with the message, “Fulfill your campaign promise of job creation,” “PMB please give us Peace Corps.”

Buhari Arrives Benue, Meets Stakeholders

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived Makurdi, the Benue State capital, to meet with the state Governor Samuel Ortom and other stakeholders.

President Buhari arrived the airport at Makurdi, the state capital at exactly 10:43 a.m. on Monday morning.

The president is scheduled to meet with leaders and stakeholders in the state at the Government House.

This is President Buhari’s first visit to the state since the New Year killings which claimed the lives of over 70 people.

He was earlier scheduled to visit the Tor-Tiv, Professor James Ayatse and also visit the Exercise Cat Race Camp including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps in Gbajimba, Guma LGA headquarters.

The President had last week visited Taraba State, one of the states troubled with the herdsmen-farmers crisis which has left scores dead and displaced hundreds.

While he commiserated with the people over the killings, he described the attacks and bloodshed as unfortunate.

President Buhari, therefore, assured Nigerians and victims of the attacks that justice will be served. He, however, noted that a collective effort is required to maintain peace and security.

Apart from Taraba and Benue, he is also expected to visit Yobe, Zamfara and Rivers states where cases of terror attacks and clashes have been recorded.

Herdsmen, Farmers In Fresh Benue Clash, 16 killed.

Sixteen persons including, a herdsman were on Monday killed in a fresh clash at Omutu community in Okpokwu local government area of Benue state.

Barely 24 hours after two persons were killed by herdsmen in Humeger, Guma local government area of the state, the gruesome killing began.

According to a statement coming from the Benue State Police Command spokesman, ASP, Moses Yamu, the victims were mostly women and children.

Yamu in a statement made available to our correspondent on Tuesday morning said that the attack was a reprisal after some youths in the community went berserk, attacked Fulani herdsmen and ‘maimed’ some cows.

“We received information from the security adviser of Okpokwu local government that some irate youths from Omutu engaged some herdsmen in a fight, maiming some cows while two herdsmen were missing.

“A peace meeting was immediately convened by the Council Chairman and the head of Fulani community in the area while a police search party went in search of the two missing herdsmen, one of whom was found dead.”

“Unfortunately, as the search and peace meeting were on going, some herdsmen went on a rampage, hacking  15 persons – mostly women and children, to death while some houses were set ablaze.

The Police spokesman said four suspects had been arrested in connection with the killings, adding that ‘extensive’ patrol of the community was ongoing and to be reinforced by special forces.

15 People Killed In Fresh Herdsmen Attack In Benue State

15 people have reportedly been killed in the freshest attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen on Olosu, a village in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.

According to police report the incident took place after a peace meeting was summoned to address fight between Irate Youths from Omutu and some herdsmen. The incident also lead to loss of properties as houses were set ablaze.

The herdsmen during the meeting went on rampage slaughtering 15 people and setting houses ablaze.

The location of the attack is said to be close to the camp of the herdsmen.

The Benue State Police Command, in a statement, confirmed the killings to DAILY POST, stating that four suspects had been arrested in connection with the gruesome murder.

The statement read “The Benue Police wishes to report that, today at about 0730hrs, information was received from the Security Adviser, Okpokwu LGA that some Irate Youths from Omutu engaged some Herdsmen in a fight, maiming some cows, while two (2) herdsmen were found missing.

“A peace meeting was immediately initiated with the Chairman of the LGA and the Head of the Fulani Community in the area, while a Police Search Party went in search of the 2 missing Herdsmen, one of who was found killed.

“Unfortunately, as the search and peace meeting were ongoing, some herdsmen surreptitiously went on rampage, resulting in matcheting to death of 15 persons mainly women and children, while some houses were set ablaze.

“Four (4) suspects have so far been arrested in connection with the gruesome murder. An extensive patrol of the community is ongoing which will be reinforce with the Special Forces.”


Military Starts Operation Cat Race Exercise In Benue

Operation Cat Race, the military exercise aimed at curbing conflicts and other criminal activities in the north central is set to take off today in Benue state.

Ahead of the formal inauguration of the operation, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, has visited Governor Samuel Ortom at the Government House in Makurdi the state capital.

According to General Buratai, the exercise is aimed to familiarise the Army with the terrain and the peculiar security challenges of the area.

It is expected that this would bring under control, to a large extent, the issues of farmers and herdsmen crisis and other ancillary security challenges in that zone.

The Army had said on Wednesday last week announced that the operation would run from February 15 to March 31 in Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states.

Giving a brief on the Security Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, Adesina said issued considered include the farmers-herdsmen crisis in different parts of the country.

According to him, others are cattle rustling, kidnapping, banditry, as well as anything that constitutes security challenge, while the intention is to tackle the issues.

The President’s spokesman noted that the recent efforts by his principal have shown that he was not enjoying himself in his air-conditioned home and doing nothing about the killings reported in the country.

He, however, maintained that President Buhari is up and doing in addressing the security challenges which he said were giving him a lot of concern.

Mr Adesina further assured Nigerians that the Federal Government is working hard to reduce the crisis to the barest minimum, if not completely controlled totally.

However, the scene of the launch, which is Gbajimba in Guma Local Government Area, has witnessed a spate of attacks by suspected herdsmen operating along the Benue-Nasarawa border.

Samuel Ortom Swears In Special Adviser On Security

Amidst the critical situation in the state of Benue, Governor Samuel Ortom on Thursday swore in a new Special Adviser on Security, Col. Paul Hemba, retired who is to replace Col. Edwin Jando.

Performing the ceremony at the conference hall of Governor’s Lodge, Benue Peoples House, Governor Ortom charged the new appointee to synergise with security agencies, his colleagues and other agencies to impact positively on the security architecture of the state.

While noting that the need to overhaul the security apparatus of the state could not be overemphasized considering the activities of militia herdsmen, Governor Ortom urged the new security adviser to bring his wealth of experience to bear on his new positon.

He commended Col. Jando for his meritorious service to the state and charged him to remain committed and dedicated even in his new assignment.

Responding, retired Col. Hemba thanked the Governor for finding him worthy of the appointment and promised to put in his best knowing the security challenges confronting the state.


Police Confirm Militia Groups ‘Armed With AK-47’ In Benue

Police have confirmed the existence of armed militia groups in Benue State which they said investigations would reveal soon.

Speaking on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television, the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Jimoh Moshood, countered claims by Governor Samuel Ortom that there was nothing of such.

“Yes, they were armed with AK-47 (riffles); we have records, we have footage and you can’t just start arming people,” he said when he appeared on Sunrise Daily.

“There are a lot of militia groups equally in Benue and we are looking at all those areas to ensure that the actual perpetrators of this mayhem are promptly arrested.

“People who are supposed to ensure that when they observe (you say you have a guard) and report back to the police that would probably do the appropriate thing; if such a guard is armed with AK-47 rifle, how do you control that, how do you prevent such AK-47 (riffle) from going into wrong hands?” Moshood questioned.

He also disputed claims that the ranch guards who were inaugurated by the state government were unarmed, insisting that the police have their evidence.

The Force spokesman noted that it was unlawful for any person to be in possession of arm without the consent of the Federal Government.

He added that the said ranch guards were meant to take note of any suspicious activity and report to the police, stressing that investigations had revealed that they were carrying prohibited weapons.

On Ortom’s claims, Moshood said: “Yes, I’m disputing that because we have evidence that they were armed with AK-47 rifles.”

“It is equally important for people to know that we are investigating that, we must know the source of these AK-47 rifles.

“Any organisation that you are setting up before you can carry firearms must be approved by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and it shouldn’t be a prohibited firearm.

“When you don’t draw the police into this and you arm people, you turn them into militias because you don’t control what they do with these firearms,” he added.

The Force spokesman, however, said the police have been supporting the Benue State government in terms of implementing the law on prohibition of open-grazing in the state.

According to him, the police have a responsibility to support any law made at all levels of government, as well as the ones made by the leadership of any community towards keeping the peace in the society.

Moshood said, “Even when you look at the international law, it’s like picking a cutlass and cutting a footpath and everybody is compelled to pass the footpath; so if that is the norms of the people, we should enforce it for them.”

Tuface Visits Governor Ortom Over Herdsmen Killings

2face Idibia who has always attributed himself as a son of the soil of Jos, has visited the Benue. The musician on Wednesday paid a condolence visit to his Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom over the recent herdsmen killings in the state.

Recall that Tuface during Soundcity awards called on the government to end killings in his state. The Benue state born singer was received at the state government house by the governor and members of his cabinet.



NYSC Suspends Orientation Course In Benue

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) announced that the 2017 Batch ‘B’ stream II orientation course scheduled to hold in Benue from Jan. 16 to Feb. 5 has been suspended till further notice.

The announcement was made on its official Facebook page in Abuja on Sunday.

It said that a new date would be communicated in due course to prospective corps members deployed to the state for the orientation.

“The NYSC management wishes to inform all prospective corps members deployed to Benue and Taraba states that the 2017 Batch ‘B’ Stream II orientation course scheduled to hold in Benue camp has been suspended.

“A new date will be communicated to you in due course. All inconveniences are highly regrettable,” the scheme said.

Earlier, the NYSC had issued a statement that the 2017 Batch ‘B’ Stream II orientation course would hold in only 15 camps nationwide.

The camps were in Abia, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Sokoto, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Plateau, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Rivers and the FCT.



Delegated Leaders From Benue State Meet With President Buhari

Benue State Leaders are currently in a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock, Abuja over incessant killings by herdsmen in the state.

According to reports, the leaders were led to the presidential villa by the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

Delegates at the meeting are former Senate President, David Mark; former governor George Akume; the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse,; Senator Barnabas Gemade, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa; Senator Joseph Wayas; and Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Terkimbir Kyamb and others.

There were also the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh; Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau and other government officials.

Critical issues to be discussed at the meeting included how to bring an end to the current herdsmen crisis in Benue State.


Benue, Nasarawa Govs Disagree On Killer Herdsmen’s Location

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and his Nasarawa State counterpart, Tanko Al-Makura, have disagreed on the location of the Fulani herdsmen, who attacked several Benue State communities last week, killing no fewer than 71 residents.

While Ortom alleged that the marauding herdsmen launched their attacks from their Nasarawa base, Al-Makura faulted the Benue State governor’s assertion, asking Ortom the source of his allegation.

Ortom spoke with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

The Benue State governor said he would support any move, including military option that could put an end to the killings being witnessed in the state.

He however said he would not support the Federal Government’s plan to establish cattle colonies until he understood the concept.

The meeting, which was the first between the two leaders since violence broke out in the state on January 1, afforded the governor the opportunity of briefing Buhari about the security development.

He said although he had briefed the President on the telephone immediately the incident took place, he felt there was the need for him to meet Buhari personally after he had succeeded in restoring normalcy to a level.

When asked for his position on the suggestion that full blown military operation be applied in his state, the governor said, “Anything that can stop the killings of my people, I will go for it. I support it.

“Any policy or any directive, anything that will help stop the killing of these innocent people who are not armed, I will support it because this cannot continue.”

The governor explained that the law on prohibition of open grazing and establishment of ranching was made out of the need to ensure that there was a peaceful coexistence among herdsmen and farmers.

Ortom said he did not understand the concept of the cattle colonies being proposed by the Federal Government.

He added, “I am waiting to be briefed about what colonies means. I don’t understand it.

“Like I keep saying, for us the way forward is ranching and until this time I am talking to you, the way forward is ranching because it is a global best practice.

“It is not just being practised in other parts of the world, on African soil in Swaziland, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, almost all African countries that rear cattle, they ranch. So, why can’t we do the same thing here?

“‘For the colony thing, I don’t know what colony is.”

The governor said the state had been witnessing peace since the implementation of the law started up until the militias from the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore came and attacked the people.

He further claimed that the attackers and their location were known.

The governor disclosed that the attackers were camped in Tongua in the Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, from where they launched their attacks.

He said the gunmen still succeeded in killing two riot policemen on Monday while one other was injured in another attempt to attack the people in the Logo LGA.

The governor stated, “It (the situation) is taking a different dimension. Just yesterday (Monday) in the Logo Local Government, mobile policemen that were deployed in Logo to keep vigil to protect the people and the land, these militia came, exchanged fire with them, caught two of them and slaughtered them like goats.

“They shot another one, inflicted machete cuts on him and left him in the pool of his blood but luckily, he did not die. We have taken him to the hospital, we are treating him, the other one that was declared missing was found today (Tuesday).

“So, when it gets to the level of militia killing security men who are armed and are trained to protect lives and property, is it not taking a dangerous dimension? Who is now safe?”

He said he had been writing to the leadership of the nation’s security agencies since June 2017 on the need to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who he described as threats to the state’s collective interest.

Ortom attributed the killings to the failure of the security agencies.

He insisted that the leaders of MAKH must be arrested and prosecuted because his government could allow impunity to continue to thrive.

On the claim by the Chairman of the Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Benue State chapter, Garos Gololo, that the killings were in retaliation for the theft of 1,000 cows by some people in the state, Ortom said, “You know that man is a liar. Gololo is a liar, he is a wanted man in Benue State; we don’t even know where he is. He stays somewhere and makes allegations.

“The other time, he said 1,000 cattle drowned and that the herdsman decided to commit suicide by jumping to the river. He has not come out to justify what he said.”

But Al-Madura described Ortom’s statement that those who attacked his state were camped in Tango, Awe LGA of Nasarawa State, as unfortunate.

Al-Makura, while speaking to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, said it was unfortunate that Ortom could make such a weighty allegation at a time his government was supporting him to tackle the security challenge in his state.

He explained that the town that Ortom claimed was serving as a base for the attackers was currently occupied by Internally Displaced Persons.

The governor said, “I am really taken back. This statement is most unfortunate. I will like to use this opportunity to say that there is nothing like that whatsoever.

“If anything, the Tonga that the governor is talking about in the Awe LGA is now the safe haven for displaced persons. As I speak with you today, there are more than three IDP camps in the Awe local government that cater to the number of people that have migrated from Benue to Nasarawa.

“To be specific, there are more than 7,000 people that are camped in Tonga. So, it is very ironical that a place that is supposed to be an area that has become a safe haven for IDPs can now be called militias’ camp.

“In that case, the militia do not need to go as far as Benue. They have the prey within the vicinity of Tonga to attack. I think this is most unfortunate.

“With the efforts we, as a state, are making and collaborating and supporting the governor to find ways and means of solving this problem, that Nasarawa State can be identified as an area where some of these militants are coming from, is unfortunate.”

Al-Makura recalled that he and six other governors met the nation’s service chiefs and some ministers for over seven hours on Monday on how to solve the problem.

He expressed surprise that Ortom did not find it worthy to approach him and tell him of such finding.

“He could not approach me and give me an idea if there is anything that he saw or he is worried about.

“Besides, from all the discussions we had yesterday, there was no concrete security report stigmatising any part of Nasarawa State as harbouring people that are coming to attack Benue.

“I feel what should be of concern to us as leaders is the plight of the people and any such statement that is inflammatory is likely going to cause more confusion than what is already there,” he added.

The Nasarawa State governor attributed the violence in Benue State to the implementation of the state’s anti-grazing law.

He added, “As it is, it is the implementation of the anti-grazing law in Benue caused the problem and now Nasarawa State is being infected by the problem. Notwithstanding that, we are being our brothers’ keepers and good neighbours.

“I had to cut short my vacation and come to find ways of helping my colleague. We have called all our security agencies to meet to find ways and means of helping Benue.”

Source: PUNCH