Benue Is Under Siege, Govt Laments After Church Attack

Benue Is Under Siege, Govt Laments After Church Attack
Benue State Deputy Governor, Mr Benson Abounu


The Benue State government says the state is under a siege, following the latest attack in which several persons were killed.

Suspected armed herdsmen had invaded Ayar-Mbalom community in Gwer East Local Government Area of the state on Tuesday, killing two Catholic priests and at least 13 people.

READ ALSOSuspected Herdsmen Kill 11 Worshipers, Two Priests In Benue Church

Hours after the incident occurred, the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Benson Abounu, visited the scene of the attack, alongside the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Fatai Owoseni, and other government officials.

“We are under siege and I do believe that this has gone beyond the normal herdsmen-farmers crisis,” he said while briefing reporters.

“What we are having at the moment is an attack by insurgents and these insurgents could come from any source, any background. This is a new dimension of attack and it has never happened before.”

On the number of casualties recorded, Mr Abounu confirmed that the two priests and 17 other people lost their lives, making a total of 19.

He lamented that the incident has led to another black day in the history of Benue, adding that it calls for serious attention from the relevant stakeholders.

The deputy governor further urged the Federal Government and the security agencies in the country to treat the continued killing of innocent citizens in the state as “a very grave and serious matter”, as it gone beyond the crisis between herdsmen and farmers.

Also speaking to reporters about the attack, the police commissioner disclosed that about 30 assailants, whose targets were the priests and the venue of a burial ceremony, invaded the community.

“As of the time I left the place, we were able to see 16 dead bodies, including the priests that were killed,” he said.

Owoseni, however, revealed that the police have commenced a wider area surveillance and deployed personnel and were working with the residents of the community to apprehend the assailants.

He noted that the search operation would be intensified and called on residents to provide useful information that can lead to the arrest of the attackers.

Hours after the attack, President Muhammadu Buhari had condemned the killing of the two priests and worshippers as ‘vile and satanic’.

“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable. Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting,” the President said in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina.

President Buhari had also sympathised with the Benue State government, as well as the people of the community where the incident occurred.

Benue Flood: Govt Commences Integrity Test On Affected Buildings

Most of the buildings damaged by recent floods in Makurdi, the Benue State capital are being subjected to integrity tests to ascertain that they do not constitute environmental hazards.

The state’s deputy governor, Benson Abounu, speaking at the camp provided for the people displaced by the flood said the government is also ready to provide measures to assuage and support the victims of the flood.

He said that the tests are part of measures aimed at mitigating the devastating impact of the floods.

READ ALSO: Benue Flooding: NBA Supports Demolition of Structures Blocking Water Channels

“The houses that were completely collapsed, clearly there has to be government intervention, at least by helping the individuals to rebuild.

“The houses that were only taken over by flood but now the water has receded, we have taken engineers to look at them. Those considered fit for human habitation, we have decided that we will take their record, counsel them and also intervene by providing some of the items which they have lost.”

Abounu was accompanied by humanitrian agencies to distribute relief materials to the flood victims at the IDP camp.

FG Destroys 1,500 Illegal Weapons In Benue       

Illegal Weapons, BenueThe Presidential Committee on Small and Light Weapons says the Federal Government has concluded arrangements with the German government to train beneficiaries of the Benue State Amnesty Programme.

Chairman of the Committee, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, disclosed this at the destruction of over 1,500 assorted weapons allegedly seized from Benue’s most wanted robbery gang leader, Mr Terwase Akwaza and other armed robbery suspects in the north-central state.

Giving statistics on illegal handling of arms on Tuesday in Makurdi, Ambassador Imohe, who was represented by Mr Dickson Orji, said that at least eight million illicit arms were believed to be in some Nigerians’ possession.

Governor Samuel Ortom began the official destruction exercise with his deputy, Mr Benson Abounu, after inspecting the cache of assorted arms.

He restated his administrations’ commitment to training all those who embraced the amnesty programme.

Governor Ortom, however, warned that those who reneged on the programme and went back to crime would be dealt with.

He hinted that the exercise would continue till Friday and promised to hunt down all known criminals in the state.

Olonisakin Tasks Army On Contemporary Counter-terrorism Strategies

 counter terrorism, Olonisakin, ArmyThe Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has asked participants at the ongoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) conference to evolve new and contemporary counter terrorism strategies to combat insecurity in Nigeria.

General Olonisakin gave the directive on Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the COAS conference holding in Makurdi, Benue State’s capital.

The conference was organised to review military counter terrorism approach and the operational competence of the Nigerian Army.

The Defence Chief also set new intelligence and operational targets for the army to meet before the next conference.

The COAS, Lieutenant General Tukur Burutai, consequently ordered a new phase of military training.

He said the training would enhance the capacity and operations of troops engaged in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists, militants in the Niger Delta and armed herdsmen.

On his part, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who was represented by his deputy, Benson Abounu, thanked the Service Chiefs for defending the state.

He expressed delight that residents could now go about their lawful activities after they had suffered many security breaches by armed herdsmen.

Besides the review of military intelligence and counter-terrorism operations, the Service Chiefs also commissioned the NASME/ Host Community Link Bridge, the NASME Water Works and a free medical outreach for the public to ascertain their health status.

Prisons Service, Benue Govt. Partner To Avert Jail Breaks

Prisons, Benue, Jail BreaksThe Nigerian Prisons Service and the Benue State government have taken steps to prevent the rising cases of jail breaks across Nigeria.

Both stakeholders have resolve to increase surveillance and construct more cell blocks at the Makurdi prison in the Benue State capital, north-central Nigeria.

The Comptroller of Prisons in Benue State, Mr Peter Pevigo, told Channels Television that the joint security committee was contributing maximum armed personnel to counter any jail break attempt in the state.

He pointed out that long period of awaiting trial and prison congestion were major causes of prison riots and jail break attempt.

On his part, the Benue State Deputy Governor, Mr Benson Abounu, promised to ease the pressure on the existing prison facilities, hoping that the judiciary would complement the government’s effort by addressing the challenges of prison congestion.

He acknowledged that 117 inmates were sharing a single cell built to accommodate only 36 prisoners.

Mr Abounu disclosed the government’s plan after a working visit of the Benue State Exco members to the Makurdi prison, to donate 200 mattresses and 400 plates to the inmates.

Benue State Terminates Terwase Akwaza’s Amnesty Pardon

Benue, Samuel Ortom on Terwase Akwaza's Amnesty PardonThe Benue State security council today, approved the termination of the amnesty pardon and the agricultural product tax collection contract earlier granted, Mr Terwase Akwaza.

Mr Akwaza, also known as Ghana, is said to have evaded arrest on sundry allegations, including murder and kidnapping.

Amnesty pardon and the agricultural produce tax collection contract were granted Mr Terwase Akwaza when he gave up his underworld lifestyle.

The approval for the rights to be withdrawn was issued on Monday at a security meeting convened by Governor Samuel Ortom at the Government House, to review the status of last Saturday’s military invasion of Gbise village to apprehend Ghana.

Governor Ortom, his deputy, Mr Benson Abounu and security chiefs, were present at the security council meeting which lasted for Six hours.

At the end of the meeting, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Bashir Makama, said, although Ghana evaded arrest, property used by the suspects to perpetrate criminal activities, including armed bunkers, were destroyed.

On the sideline of the security meeting, the Director of Personnel Management of Katsina Ala Council Area, Barnabas Jadu, denied any protest by Gbise community against the military invasion.

At the end of the meeting, the commissioner of police, led other security chiefs out to intensify efforts aimed at returning peace to the area.

He told reporters that Ghana was still at large.

2017 Budget Will Address Abandoned Projects – Udoma

Budget, Udo Udoma, Abandoned ProjectsThe Federal Government has promised a better national budget in 2017 to address the issue of abandoned projects across Nigeria.

The government also pledged to bring a rest to the crisis of confidence over the 2016 Budget, which has been fraught with allegation of padding right from the beginning.

The Minister of National Planning and Budget, Mr Udo Udoma, disclosed this on Wednesday at a two-day conference on capital projects, implementation and monitoring organised by the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

The Minister, who was represented by the Director of Budget Planning, Mrs Olasunbor Ayinde, hinted that the 2017 Budget would attain uniform cost price for all items presented by MDAs to fund the abandoned projects spread across the country.

President of the NIQS, Mercy Iyortyer, expressed worry over the more than 19,000 abandoned projects across Nigeria, including the Benue State Sheraton Hotel which has remained uncompleted after 33 years.

The Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, who was represented by his deputy, Benson Abounu, blamed the spate of uncompleted projects on lack of ethical behaviour on the part of professionals.

The Senate Committee Chairman on Public Procurement, Senator Mohammed Abdulsalami, on his part explained the controversy of budget padding while he blamed the legislature and the executive for lack of restraint.

Herdsmen Attacks: Benue State To Prohibit Open Grazing

herdsmen, herdsmen attacks, Benue State, GrazingThe Benue State Government has forwarded a bill to the State House of Assembly to outlaw and ban open grazing of cattle in the state in order to curb clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

Governor Samuel Ortom disclosed this to the people of Sankera in the Benue North East senatorial district at the ongoing state-wide town hall meetings to engage the people in participatory democracy.

Mr Ortom spoke to journalist shortly after the town hall meeting and explained that the move became necessary following the incessant herdsmen attacks and recent killing of over 10 persons in Logo and Ukum Local Government last week Saturday.

Mr Ortom, while responding to the demand for protection, disclosed that an executive bill prohibiting open grazing has been sent to the state assembly.

Governor Ortom also met with the Jemgbagh clan of old Gboko province, the Igede people of Oju and Obi council areas, where he held the former administration responsible for looting and plunging the state into indebtedness.

The Sankera people are known for large scale farming of rice and yam. They came together in Katsina-Ala to demand action from the federal and state government over the killing of their people.

Herdsmen Attacks: Benue Communities Demand 100bn Naira Compensation

Herdsmen AttacksRepresentatives of Benue communities are demanding the sum of 100 billion Naira as compensation for victims of suspected herdsmen attacks in Benue State.

They put up this demand at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs.

The one day public hearing was to look at the alarming influx of unidentified herdsmen into Benue State and the threat to life and property in the state.

Different community groups from the state, the Police IG and the Deputy Governor of Benue State gathered to make their contributions.

The efforts of the Police so far and the intervention of the federal government in combating the situation was on the front burner.

The committee heard from the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, who highlighted some of the steps being taken to address the crisis.

He said that they have apprehended some persons and investigations were ongoing.

While representatives of the community groups suggested how the situation can be managed, the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Benson Abounu, also put forward the measures recommended by the state government towards resolving the issues.

The lawmakers sympathized with the people of Benue State and appealed to the representatives of the community groups to let peace reign while efforts are being by the government made to bring the situation under control.

Defence Chief Promises To Rebuild Destroyed Public Utilities In Agatu

Agatu-IDPsThe Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has pledge to rebuild destroyed public utilities in Agatu and other local government areas affected by the herdsmen attacks in Benue State.

General Olonisakin made the pledge in Agatu while on a fact finding visit to communities and other local government areas like Buruku and Tarka where many lives were lost in the wake of the herdsmen attacks.

Represented by Major General Edward Nze and a crack military team, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) promised more deployment of both the Navy and Air Force to support the troops on ground to enable the locals take statistics of their losses.

The military team deployed by the CDS to investigate the three months long attacks on Benue communities at a meeting with the Deputy Governor of the State, Benson Abounu.

Mr Abounu, who did not hold back details of the attacks by the herdsmen, called on the Federal Government to tackle the security threat he described as worse than Boko Haram.

The CDS team visited Tarka and Buruku Local Government Areas in company of some government officials where 10 persons have so far been killed.

The Council Chairman, Gowin Iorsue, who received the team, also spoke on the attacks.

When the team arrived Agatu to investigate the herdsmen atrocities, they were confronted with rear humanitarian crisis, ruin and total despair.

The team leader, Major General  Nze, promised that the crisis would end and also pledged to ensure that the Federal Government included rehabilitation of the affected Benue communities, after meeting with the leadership of Agatu communities.

The CDS team is expected to submit a report of its finding on the herdsmen attacks on local farmers in Benue State, but survivors and victims left behind to face the harsh reality, need urgent help to move on with their lives.

Agatu Crisis: State Government Donates Relief Materials To IDPs

IDPsThe 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.