By Sadiq Umar – Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State says security agencies did not take proactive measures to protect the state against its aggressors after several complaints of planned attacks reported to them and the presidency.
Ortom made this known on Wednesday in Makurdi at a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the security situation in the state.
“I saw the attacks coming and we wrote several letters of complaint to the police and complained to the presidency, yet nothing happened.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris and top police officers including the DIG operations, Habila Joshak, two commissioners of police for Benue and Nasarawa states were in attendance.
The governor expressed regret that after repeated complaints to the police and other security agencies in the country on the threats of attacks by MACBAN, nothing was done to secure lives and property in the state.
“We called for the arrest of leaders of the association; we had evidence to support our claims but nobody paid heed to us.
“We wrote to you IGP three times but received no response. We briefed the presidency yet to no avail,” he lamented.
Ortom said the refusal of the security agencies to act and their lackadaisical attitude on the matter led to the mayhem of January 1.
He wondered why open statements of intended aggression against the state on national television, radio stations by members of the association had not been investigated and arrests effected.
He vowed to continue with the anti-open grazing law, stressing “there is no land in Benue for open grazing”.
Ortom said he would not adopt the cattle colonies as suggested by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh.
He appealed to the IGP to immediately order for the arrest of leaders of MACBAN to give hope to the ordinary citizens that all people were equal before the law.
The governor said that the herdsmen that attacked the state came from their bases in Nasarawa State and challenged the police to refute his claims.
Responding, the IGP said he had not received such letters of complaints from the governor but promised to investigate the claims and fish out the aggressors.
He said the police had deployed 663 police operatives and created 10 mobile units to deal with the insecurity in the state.
Idris said the police would deploy helicopter surveillance to monitor the movement of such miscreants across the state and pledged to be diligent in discharging the presidential assignment.
He explained that the situation was not yet beyond the capacity of the police, stressing “there is no need for the army to be invited”.
Other speakers at the meeting include the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, who called on the IGP to ensure the arrest of the aggressors.
They rejected the suggestion for the establishment of cattle colonies in the state and affirmed their support for the implementation of the anti-open grazing law.
They also called on the Federal Government to commence the process of establishing ranches across the country as a panacea to farmers/herders clashes.
The high point of the meeting was the open apology by the IGP for describing the Benue killings as “communal clashes”, following insistence from participants.
“I apologise (to Benue people) for the misconception of the statement I made at a press conference in Abuja.
“I was only trying to convey a message that Nigerians should live together in peace. As policemen, we try to avoid divisive statements”, Ibrahim Idris said.
Herdsmen Have Declared War On Nigeria – Soyinka
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has added his voice to the outrage that has greeted the brutal killing of farmers in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen.
Soyinka said the killer herdsmen had declared war on Nigeria.
The world acclaimed writer and civil rights leader expressed his views on Wednesday in a statement entitled, ‘Impunity Rides Again’.
He condemned the impunity by which the herdsmen perpetrated evil while the Federal Government allegedly looked the other way.
While bemoaning the failure of government to nip the attacks in the bud, he called on the Muhammadu Buhari administration to halt the murderous activities of the herdsmen without further delay.
According to him, the failure of government to heed the warnings given by concerned Nigerians was largely responsible for the violation of more lives.
He said the president’s reluctance to take decisive actions against the herdsmen was akin to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s indifference when he was informed about the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok.
While insisting that the president was handling the continued killings of farmers with kid gloves, the poet pointed out that Jonathan did same with Boko Haram, leading to its subsequent escalation.
The playwright wondered why the Buhari-led government had not considered some of the suggestions which stakeholders recommended as solutions to the crisis.
Soyinka also lambasted Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture, for saying the herdsmen were carrying out the attacks because the Federal Government had not done enough to cater for their needs.
Part of the statement reads: “In plain language, they have declared war against the nation, and their weapon is undiluted terror.
“Why have they been permitted to become a menace to the rest of us? That is the issue!
“It is happening all over again. History is repeating itself and, alas, within such an agonizingly short span of time.
“How often must we warn against the enervating lure of appeasement in face of aggression and will to dominate!
“I do not hesitate to draw attention to Volume III of my INTERVENTION Series, and to the chapter on The Unappeasable Price of Appeasement.
“There is little to add, but it does appear that even the tragically fulfilled warnings of the past leave no impression on leadership, not even when identical signs of impending cardiac arrest loom over the nation.
“Boko Haram was still at that stage of putative probes when cries of alarm emerged.
“Then the fashion ideologues of society deployed their distancing turns of phrase to rationalise what were so obviously discernible as an agenda of ruthless fundamentalism and internal domination.
“Boko Haram was a product of social inequities, they preached – one even chortled: We stand for justice, so we are all Boko Haram!.”
Soyinka also berated Audu Ogbeh over his comments, saying: “What else does one make of his statements in an interview where he generously lays the blame for ongoing killings everywhere but at the feet of the actual perpetrators?”