Governor Samuel Ortom on Thursday insisted that the proposed grazing reserve bill, pending before the National Assembly will not solve the problem of mass killing of farmers in Benue State by armed herdsmen.
The governor who disclosed this at the Internally Displaced Persons camp, Anyiin in Logo Local Government Area, vowed to resist attempt that will further aid the killing of his people, promising to defend innocent farmers in the state.
Gov. Ortom who also visited the Buruku and Tarka IDP camps with relief materials, is confronted by the IDPs with gory pictures of the gruesome murder of women and children by the herdsmen.
Women and children in their hundreds who were displaced from their ancestral homes, now take refuge in the IDP camps across the council areas.
A community leader from Buruku, made a presentation to the governor on the killings which is still on going, a situation the governor vowed to resist going forward.
To drive home the advocacy for the establishment of ranches and not grazing reserves, Governor Ortom upon arriving Makurdi the state capital, noted that he has been running the ranch successfully for 15 years, and recommend same to herdsmen who must remain in Benue state or move out.
Meanwhile, the herdsmen attack may have subsided in Agatu Local Government Area due to the deployment of the military in areas like Logo, Buruku and Tarka which have continuously been hit by herdsmen.
The Benue State Government has donated relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) fleeing from the Fulani herdsmen attacks in Agatu Local Government Area.
Presenting the items which include food items and beddings to the victims at the IDPs camp in Apa Local Government Area on Saturday, the State Deputy Governor, lamented the extent of the destruction carried out by the herdsmen in Agatu, with nursing mothers left to care for their infant babies.
Mr Benson Abounu noted that the relief material would help the IDPs alleviate their sufferings
One of the IDPs, a nursing mother with three months old twins, said her husband was still missing. She told Channels Television that she could only manage to run to safety with the babies.
Mami Audu said that she had been forced to care for the babies in difficult circumstances.
“We were displaced from Aila in Agatu Local Government. These babies are just three months old and I can’t afford milk to feed them properly and shelter to protect them from the bad weather,” Audu said.
In a statement signed by the Director of Press to the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, the Federal Government said the murder of innocent people, mostly women, children and the aged in cold blood is callous, inhuman and barbaric which would not be tolerated by the Federal Government.
Comrade Moro who described the incident as a national tragedy, called on law enforcement agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the crime with a view of making them face the full weight of the law.
The statement added that the Federal Government commiserates with the families of the dead, the affected communities and the people of the State over the destruction of their homes and farmlands.
Nigeria’s military authorities have said that they have not received any report of killings by its troops operating in Nasarawa State.
This is coming after the reported killing of over twenty people by a team believed to be soldiers in Keana Local Government Area of the state.
The military spokesperson, Major-General Chris Olukolade has, however, promised that investigations will be carried out to ascertain if those who carried out the attack are actually military soldiers.
In the meantime, the troops deployed to some North-Central states last week have started clearing camps and mopping up arms. According Major-General Olukolade, the troops were mandated to conduct operations aimed at addressing the security situation in the area.
He explained that normalcy had been restored in three local governments of Benue State while some arrests and recovery of arms have been made in the process.
The Nigerian Army on Thursday said that it had begun to rid Benue State of armed gangs as part of its efforts at returning sanity to Northern Nigeria, where the Boko Haram insurgency has laid siege for some years.
In a statement made available to Channels Television, the Director Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, said that “formation commanders of the Nigerian Army have moved to the various states in their area of responsibility to conduct the operations aimed at addressing deteriorating security situation in parts of the North Central.”
Also “troops deployed in Benue State have already cleared camps of all armed gangs in three Local Governments of the State. Normalcy have been restored in Guma, Gwer West and Agatu Local Government Areas. Some arrests and recoveries have been made in the process.”
The mission which was tagged ‘Operation Restore Peace’, “resulted in the destruction of militant camps, arrests as well as recovery of arms in Shendam area of Plateau State. 2 AK 47 rifles were recovered after an encounter with troops of Special Task Force and the armed gangs in their enclaves in Shimanker in Plateau State.
In Kaduna State, militants’ camps in Ladduga near Kachia were destroyed, while arms were equally recovered in Maigungume Hills in Niger State.
Major-General Olukolade further disclosed that General Officers Commanding (GOCs) were directly supervising these operations in their Area of Responsibility in Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States, while the troops combed forests “in the mission to apprehend members of armed gangs and destroy their enclaves.”