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

Alleged Herdsmen Killing Of 33 Persons Sparks Protest In Benue

Hundreds of youths on Wednesday stormed the popular Food Basket Roundabout in Makurdi to protest the alleged killing of at least 33 people by herdsmen in Benue State.

The protest led to a gridlock in the area, causing traffic obstruction for motorists travelling through the state capital to the north and southern regions of the country.

The aggrieved youths have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in what they described as “terrorist killings” in their state.

Some of them were in tears as a vehicle conveyed another corpse into the crowd to prove their claims of the ongoing killings, following a reported attack which occurred on Tuesday night.

The protest came barely 24 hours after the State Security Council meeting which held at the Government House in the state capital.

Addressing reporters shortly after the meeting on Tuesday, the state governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, said he had received reports of 20 persons allegedly killed by herdsmen in the state.

During an on-the-spot assessment visit to some of the affected communities, Governor Ortom said an additional 13 deaths were discovered, taking the number of those killed to 33.

The governor, who was addressing some members of the affected communities, said: “Mr President has been briefed about this development, all the security chiefs have been briefed, and our Security Council today directed that security men should come and protect lives and property in this community.

“So I want to appeal to you to be calm, to be law-abiding, and there is no going back on the law that we signed; by the grace of God, it will be implemented.”

The killing of another resident following Tuesday’s reported attack sparked the protest by the youths who have asked the President to come to their rescue.

In a bid to contain the protest, personnel of the Nigerian Police and Nigerian Army were caught up in a faceoff with the irate youths who insist on occupying the road all through the week.

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 Attacks: Adamawa Government Calls For Calm

Adamawa State Commissioner for Information, Mr Ahmad Sajoh has reacted to the early Monday attack in Lawaru and Dong communities saying the state government and security agencies are on top of the situation.

Sajoh who called for calm among Adamawa residents spoke during a phone-in conversation on Channels Television Breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He explained that the military is working in collaboration with other security agencies and are on top of the situation.

“We also received this information just about now that there is an attack on the community known as Lawaru that the attackers are marching unto dawn.

“Although the situation is still being analysed, the security forces are on top of the situation and the attackers are suspected to be Fulani herdsmen. Nobody can say exactly what is going on,” he said.

Sajoh made reference to the previous attack in Numan adding that efforts are being channeled by security agencies to curtail its reoccurrence.

“We have been trying to contain the situation. We have done everything we could do to make sure such an attack does not take place,” he said.

Although the commissioner regretted the sad development, he, however, appealed to residents of the state not to take laws into their hands but to be calm.

Sajoh further reiterated the government’s position of restoring peace in the troubled region.