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

Despite Recent Killings, Benue Still A Safe Haven For Refugees

Despite the recent killings in Benue state that has left the country worried, the state government has said that at least 10,000 refugees fleeing from political crisis in the Republic of Cameroon are being sheltered in two different camps.

The refugees, who were mainly women, children and the elderly, were in need of humanitarian assistance, especially food, medical care and shelter.

The Executive Secretary of Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr. Emmanuel Shior, said that this challenge, according to the state government, was coming when efforts were being intensified by the government to tackle incessant attacks on people of the state by armed Fulani herdsmen, who invaded and killed residents of Guma and Logo communities following implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Prohibition Law by the state.

While addressing journalists on the humanitarian situation in the camps, Shior unveiled the government’s plans to merge and relocate the two refugee camps from their current locations in some primary schools to Monkwav in Kwande Local Government Area of the state for easy access.

Shior lamented constraints by the state government to provide humanitarian aid to the refugees whose numbers were increasing by the day and called for immediate intervention of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organisations.

 

Benue To Hold Mass Burial For New Year Attack Victims

The Benue State Government is set to organise a mass burial for he victims of the New Year attack next Thursday.

This was revealed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Terver Akase, who explained that there would be a memorial service for the victims by 10am at the IBB Square, in Makurdi.

He stated that the 10 persons killed on Saturday would be buried along with the 49 deposited at various mortuaries in the state, adding that the dead would be buried in their localities after the memorial service, meaning that 39 bodies will be buried at Guma and 20 others would be interred in Logo, all in Benue State.

Akase said the government considered the deceased as heroes of the state who died for the safety of Benue.

Governor Samuel Ortom had declared at the stakeholders’ meeting held on Friday that three days’ mourning period would be declared in preparatory for the mass burial.

According to him, state government would make coffins for the 49 bodies — 39 from Guma and 10 from Logo local government areas deposited at various mortuaries.

 

Eight Herdsmen Nabbed Over Benue Killings

The Police in Benue say they have arrested eight herdsmen over the death of 10 persons and seven livestock guards in Guma and Logo Local Governments of the state on Monday.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP Moses Yamu, announced this in a statement.

“Eight herdsmen, six in Guma and two in Logo, had been arrested in connection with the attacks,” the police spokesman said.

He added that the command had made additional deployments to the troubled area to forestall further occurrence and restore confidence of the people.

Yamu stressed the situation in the two local government areas had been brought under control while investigation was ongoing.

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 LGA.

“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.

“Again, Agba-Uko near Azege village and Tse-Aga village of Logo LGA experienced the same fate, where one person was killed, one motorcycle burnt and four persons injured.

“All the injured from both LGAs are currently undergoing treatment in various hospitals in the State.”

According to him, five combined teams of mobile and conventional policemen led by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Operations, ACP Emmanuel Adesina have engaged the armed herdsmen in a gun duel in Guma.

The Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law came into effect on November 1, 2017 to forestall attacks on Benue communities by suspected herders.

The law stipulates five year jail term or an option of N1 million fine for violators.

The attack is the first by suspected herdsmen since the law came into effect.

NAN

Herdsmen Kill Over 20 People In Benue

The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom told Journalists on Tuesday that herdsmen had killed over 20 persons between Monday and Tuesday in Guma and Logo local government areas of the state.

Ortom disclosed this in Makurdi after the State Security meeting, which he presided over at the Governor’s Office.

According to him, nine of those killed by the herdsmen were Livestock Guards who were employed to ensure the full implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law.

The visibly shaken Governor said that the law was not targeted at any ethnic group and wondered why the herdsmen had taken it so personal to the point of unleashing terror on the people.

He also frowned at the unwarranted wanton destruction of lives and property by the herdsmen.

Over 30 injured victims of the attack were taken to the Benue State Teaching Hospital, Markudi and were receiving treatment, at the moment.

 

Women Farmers Plead With Benue Assembly To Prioritize Budgetary Allocation To Agric

The President of Nigerian Association of Women In Agriculture, NAWIA, Mrs. Ngizan Chahul has appealed to the Benue State House of Assembly to prioritize budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector to ensure sustainable growth and development in the sector.

She made this appeal at a one day Benue state Legislative Interactive Forum on 2018 Agricultural Budget and State Agricultural Policy Formulation organised by NAWIA and HEDA Resource Centre with Support from Oxfam Nigeria and TrustAfrica held in Makurdi.

Mrs. Chahul who commended the state legislature and the executive for ensuring the enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law in the state said the law had reduced the incidences of herdsmen/crop farmers’ conflict that affected farming activities in the past.

“Furthermore,the on-going process for Benue state agricultural policy formulation has received legislative support which the Benue state Governor may soon sign into law, is a laudable step towards boosting investors’ morale in agro-processing and the creation of revenue opportunities for the Government, as well as employment for the Benue People, especially the youths.”

“The fact is that without a policy the agricultural sector will continue to suffer, but if we have it in place every other thing will fall into place and our state will be happier for it.”

Continuing she said, “today, the 2018 budget estimates have been presented to the Benue state House of Assembly, we would like to know the house committee position in debating for the increase in agricultural budget to at least 10% of the total annual state budget as contained in the Maputo Declaration.

“We all know that Benue State is the FOOD BASKET OF THE NATION. The state is expected to have the highest budget allocation to agriculture to enable the state sustain its appellation.

“Employment of agriculture extension officers, revival of moribund agro-processing factories in the state, research, establishment of the agro-processing zones in the state are some of the issues that the increased budget is expected to fund. If this is done, the smallholder farmers that we represent, will have a good market and stable income to improve their livelihood.

“We must also appreciate the state government for launching a unified standard measurement for most of the Agro-produce in the state, which has reduced the middlemen exploitations. “We also appreciate the State Ministry of Agriculture for its proactive steps in improving agriculture ln the state.

“In a special way, we appreciate Oxfam Nigeria and TrustAfrica for their support Which has made this occasion possible.

Mrs. Chahul who lamented the level of post harvest losses recorded in the state, expressed optimism that the deliberation and actions taken by stakeholders in the sector would to a large extent improve the fortunes of state.”

On his part, the lead paper presenter, Mr. Justin Gbagir urged the state government to ensure improved commitment to the implementation of its annual budget to better the lot of farmers in the state.

“We need to see greater commitment to the implementation of the government policies as contained in the working document of the administration and by so doing we will record unprecedented growth in that sector. “I must however state unequivocally that the situation at the moment is not encouraging but we hope that the government would do better if more funds is committed to the sector.” Gbagir noted.