…Wants masterminds arrested, prosecuted
…As youths allege plot to invade Benue communities
By Peter Duru
The Benue State Security Council, yesterday directed traditional rulers and stakeholders in Konshisha Local Government Area, LGA, to ensure the unconditional return of the arms and ammunition confiscated from the 12 soldiers killed on Easter Monday by armed bandits in the area.
The Council also advised against any form of inflammatory statements that could aggravate the situation in the area urging stakeholders to allow the government and security agencies to handle the matter.
These were part of the resolutions reached at the end of the Council’s meeting which was presided over by Governor Samuel Ortom and had in attendance stakeholders and traditional rulers from Konshisha LGA.
While confirming that militias were responsible for the killing of the soldiers deployed to ensure peace between Konshisha and Oju LGAs, the Council condemned the killing and expressed its condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief of Army Staff and families of the soldiers.
Reading the resolutions, Governor Ortom said, “the meeting confirmed that six persons including two militia members died during the search for the missing soldiers.
“Stakeholders were advised to restrain themselves from making inflammatory statements and allow the government and security agencies to handle the matter.
“The meeting tasked traditional rulers and other stakeholders to ensure that all the weapons taken from the murdered soldiers are returned unconditionally. And soon as the arms are returned, the State Security Council will review the situation.
“The meeting resolved that all those involved in the killing of the soldiers should be arrested and prosecuted. To end the lingering crisis between Oju and Konshisha, the meeting resolved that the demarcation of the boundary between the two LGAs be carried out as soon as possible.
“The meeting also appreciated the military for accepting the plea of the state government not to further escalate the destruction of lives and property of innocent citizens in the affected communities of Konshisha.”
Planned invasion of Benue communities
Meanwhile, Benue Youth Forum, BYF, has raised the alarm over alleged plot by armed herdsmen to invade Guma Local Government Area, LGA, and other parts of the state.
The group appealed to security agencies to intensify surveillance in border communities of the State, particularly Guma LGA to avert a repeat of the 2018 massacre in the area.
The National President of BYF, Terrence Kuanum in a statement in Makurdi, claimed that credible information had it that clandestine meetings were being held by armed herders in Bauchi at the border between the state and Kano State to unleash mayhem in Benue State.
According to him “herders who have been holding meetings in some northern states have singled out Governor Samuel Ortom as their prime target and have threatened to make his country home a stream of tears. Information has it that the latest meeting of the evil planners took place at a community in Bauchi on the border between the state and Kano State.
“The aim of the armed herdsmen is to intimidate the Governor through sustained attacks and force him to repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law to give their cattle unhindered access to Benue lands.
“Recall that Governor Ortom recently alerted the nation that his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed was profiling him for attacks, and that if anything happens to him, Governor Bala should be held responsible. Also recall the eye-popping support and defence the Bauchi Governor publicly gave herdsmen who carry AK47.
“Is it a coincidence that the said meeting and plot to attack Governor Ortom’s country home took place in Bauchi? Our investigation points to the fact that the same terror groups are remotely behind the communal clashes within Benue State to paint a picture of anarchy and make the Governor to appear as one who has lost control of affairs of his state.
“The sophistication and audacity the communal crises have assumed lay credence to the suspicion of external influence. While supporting the call for the arrest of indigenous suspects, we urge security operatives to equally beam their searchlight on sponsors of the crises who may not be residing within the state.
“We urge Benue people to continue to support security agencies as they have been doing and to report strange movements around them. While commending security agencies for their efforts in restoring peace in Benue State, we charge them to do more to enable our people who are in IDPs camps to return to their ancestral homes.”
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