Benue Govt Shuts School After Outbreak Of Strange Illness

Benue State government has shut down a secondary school, Vaatia College in Makurdi, the state capital following the outbreak of a strange illness.

At least nine students have been reported paralyzed following the outbreak of the strange illness and some have been hospitalised at Madonna Hospital, a private clinic in the state.

The Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Joseph Ngbea who confirmed the outbreak to Channels Television said some of the students have been discharged while few others are still hospitalised.

READ ALSO: We Are Totally Opposed To Ethnic Profiling Of Crimes – NGF

“The report of the unknown disease got to me through my Director of Public Health and we went to the Teaching Hospital where three of the students were on admission and what we saw, there was no paralysis. What we saw was Parasis – weakness of the limbs.

“Many of them were walking with a wobbling gait. We looked at the possible causes because this country is almost certified free of Poliomyelitis.

“So, when we go there, it was confirmed that it was not Poliomyelitis. What we are looking at is ‘Golemba Syndrome’. It is a weakness that starts from the limbs upwards,” he said.

When asked what is the likely cause, the Commissioner said the causes are multi-factorial and can be as a result of bacterial, fungal, or viral infection.

Doctor Ngbea, however, allayed the fears of the likely spread of the disease to other schools, considering that students of the college who may have siblings at other schools have been sent back to their families as the school remains closed.

Deadly Attacks: It Is Unfortunate Police Are Overstretched – Benue Govt

File photo of troops at a Benue community following an attack by armed herdsmen.

 

The Benue State Government on Tuesday reacted to the influx of armed herders and increase in deadly attacks in the state lamenting that the police are overstretched.

The state deputy governor, Benson Abounu, in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said some Local Governments in the state has as low as five police officers.

“The police are trying their best but the unfortunate situation is that the police is overstretched. Everybody knows this. The number of personnel is not enough.

“In a whole local you will be surprised that there are just about five officers, some 10. This is where the problem is. They are overstretched. So, you are calling on one police officer to tackle one issue here but some other issues are taking place elsewhere that requires his attention,” the deputy governor said.

READ ALSO: ‘This Will Not Be Allowed Under My Watch,’ Ortom Condemns Renewed Herdsmen Attacks In Benue

Abounu, however, praised the Federal Government’s effort in recruiting more officers.

“I am happy that the presidency is rising up to this. Two years or so back, about 10,000 officers were recruited and I understand that there’s another process of recruitment going on now. That is the way to go about it,” Abounu said.

Benue State Government had earlier raised an alarm after observing an influx of ‘heavily-armed’ herdsmen at its border with Nasarawa State.

Abonu said an investigation into the herdsmen’s activities was prompted by an alarm raised by Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule who briefed President Muhamamdu Buhari about the activities of Boko Haram insurgents along his state’s borders with Benue.

The deputy governor said although the investigation is still ongoing, the state government have been able to ascertain the fact that there appears to be a massive deployment of herdsmen with their cattle on the brink of River Benue but on the Nasarawa State bank.

The state government also observed that the herdsmen were heavily armed; many of them with Ak-47 rifles.

Suspension Of Ruga Programme Is ‘Victory For Nigerians’, Says Benue Govt

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has reacted to the suspension of the Ruga programme by the Federal Government, calling it a victory for Nigerians.

In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor,  Terver Akase, Governor Ortom stated on Wednesday the rejection of the Ruga settlement model was not personal but rather a struggle by the people of the country against impunity and injustice.

The governor commended President Muhammadu Buhari for heeding the call of the people for the suspension of the Ruga settlement patterns.

READ ALSO: Federal Government Suspends Planned Ruga Programme

He says the decision to suspend the Ruga programme shows that President Buhari has heard the voices of the majority of Nigerians on the matter.

According to him, the truth has prevailed on the Ruga issue, citing the Bible book of John 8: 32 which says “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Governor Ortom urged the Federal Government to take a step further to encourage pastoralists and other livestock owners to embrace ranching as the best model of animal husbandry.

Osun Election: Benue Govt Commends PDP Voters

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom

 

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has commended the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) for taking the lead during the Osun governorship election, which was later declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Governor Ortom says the conduct of the Osun election reflects the resolve of many Nigerians to reject impunity and give their mandate to PDP in the 2019 elections.

He also commended the people of Osun State for the peaceful manner they conducted themselves during the polls.

The Governor urged them to sustain their support for PDP and complete the good work they have started when the re-run election comes.

EFCC Lacks Power To Freeze Govt Account, Says Arthur-Worrey

The Former Director of Public Prosecution, Lagos State, Fola Arthur-Worrey, has faulted the action of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) noting that the agency has no power to freeze the account of a state government.

The legal practitioner, in an interview on Channels Television’s Breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the account of a state government is a public treasury with proceeds of taxes, revenues and federal allocations and cannot be termed as proceeds of crime.

“I do not think it was ever the intention of the legislature to allow the EFCC to just block access to a public account from which the machinery of government can run.

“You cannot classify the account of a state government which is principally the proceeds of taxes, revenues and Federal government allocation as proceeds of crime. What is the basis?

“A public treasury is a public property. It is illegal, to freeze such accounts. They don’t have that power. No agency can be given such power. If any agency has such power, that means you can disrupt anything. You will stop the payment of salary, services, debts etc,” he said.

Arthur-Worrey explained further that the EFCC is founded based on some law and regulations and its powers and activities are also defined by the law and regulations.

“The EFCC is a creation of statute and therefore its powers are defined and limited by statute. It restrained powers lie in relation to where a crime has been committed. And then you trace a specific amount or thing to a particular place and then you seek to either restrain its use or you get an interim forfeiture order.

“Principally to prevent that money from being used or for that money to use continued being used for crime.

“So, if you say because I am an anti-graft agency, I can freeze the state govt account, there is no correlation. What is the correlation?”

Arthur-Worrey’s reaction comes few days after the EFCC froze the bank accounts of the Benue State government domiciled in three banks. The anti-graft agency alleged an abuse of Benue State’s security funds by the state government.

The bank accounts were however unfrozen a day after. This was after the state government described the action as an alleged political witch-hunt aimed at frustrating Governor Samuel Ortom’s efforts after he left the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had also condemned the EFCC’s action.

Account Freezing: Benue Governor Thanks Nigerians For Support

BREAKING: EFCC Unfreezes Benue Govt’s Accounts
(File) Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has thanked Nigerians after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) unfroze the accounts of the state government.

Governor Ortom on Thursday commended Nigerians for their prayers and support which has enabled the nation to overcome the recent wave of “impunity”

The EFCC on Wednesday froze the bank accounts of the Benue State government domiciled in three banks.

Channels Television gathered that the freezing of the accounts by the anti-graft agency was a result of investigations which indicated alleged abuse of Benue State’s security fund.

In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Terver Akase, “The development has deepened democracy which strives on the rule of law and due process.

“The Governor believes that the nationwide condemnation which trailed the Police and DSS siege on the Benue State House of Assembly, as well as the invasion of the National Assembly, will be remembered and appreciated by patriots now and in the future”, he added.

According to Mr Akase, the condemnation of EFCC’s freezing of the state’s accounts and general outcry has made the organisation to unfreeze the said accounts.

The state government commended the Presidency for intervening to end impunity and the siege on the legislature.

He also thanked the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, civil society organisations and the media for being true defenders of democracy and advocates of justice, fairness and equity.

He re-emphasised that his government will not bow to intimidation and harassment aimed at bullying him into silence.

The Governor claimed that he has not committed any offence by enacting a law prohibiting open grazing in the state and by choosing another political platform.

But has only exercised his right to freedom of association as provided for in the country’s Consitution just as those who have left other parties for the All Progressives Congress, APC.

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Benue Govt Attributes Accounts Freezing To Political Witch-Hunt

Return Home, PDP Tells Others After Ortom’s Defection
(File) Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom

 

The Benue State Government has attributed the freezing of its account by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a political witch-hunt.

In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Terver Akase, “Yes, it is true that accounts of the Benue State Government have been frozen by EFCC. It is part of the political witch-hunt against Governor Samuel Ortom.

“The action of EFCC is already having a negative impact on the running of government in Benue State. It is a move that will affect salaries, pensions and other sundry payments”

Mr Akase questioned why the EFCC didn’t investigate the governor while he was still a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The question we are asking is; why did EFCC not investigate the Governor’s security votes when he was still a member of APC? Why start the investigation now?

“EFCC should not allow itself to be used as an attack dog unleashed against perceived political opponents.

“Let the Federal Government tell us how much it has spent on prosecuting the fight against Boko Haram and how much it spent on the other operations such as Python Dance, Crocodile Smile and Whirl Stroke.

“Benue has suffered heavy attacks by Fulani herdsmen since the beginning of the year. Within the period, the State Government has spent a lot to legitimately support security agencies to protect the people of the state. Governor Ortom has not diverted funds. He runs a transparent administration.

“We welcome the investigation, but as I said earlier, it should start from the Presidency and go across the 36 states. Benue should not be singled out for victimization, intimidation and harassment as the Federal Government with its agencies is currently doing.” the statement added.

The EFCC on Wednesday froze the bank accounts of the Benue State government domiciled in three banks.

Channels Television gathered that the freezing of the accounts by the anti-graft agency was a result of investigations which indicated alleged abuse of Benue State’s security funds.

Benue Govt Seeks Intervention To Address IDPs’ Health Issues

HRW Accuses Officials Of Rape, Exploitation Of Female IDP's  

 

The Benue State Government has asked medical practitioners to address the health challenges among the over 170,000 Internally Displaced Persons taking refuge in seven camps.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Cecilia Ojabo made the call during the flag off of a three-day medical outreach organised by the Nigerian Air Force Medical Corps at the Abagana IDP camp in Makurdi.

The medical outreach became necessary following the death of Six IDPs, mostly children who were worst hit by the humanitarian crisis, starvation and malnutrition among the other children in the camps.

For three months running, local farmers and vulnerable groups like women, the elderly and children, have been displaced from their communities in Guma, Logo, Agatu, Okpokwu and Makurdi local councils.

The IDP camps, built to accommodate far less than 10,000 persons, now accommodates between 15, 000 to 34, 000 IDPs.

However, the health implication of overcrowding here is the outbreak of communicable diseases like cholera, malaria and diarrhoea among the IDPs.

But the Heath Commissioner has urged them to take advantage of the medical aid, as she beckons on medical practitioners for support.

With the three days health intervention, part of the humanitarian crisis is being addressed, but food shortage, adequate water supply and the need to step up security for the safe return would be appropriate at this time.

We Appreciate Buhari’s Visit, But Didn’t Get Any Hope – Benue Govt

Killings: Convince Your People We’re Doing Our Best, Buhari Begs Benue Leaders
President Muhammadu Buhari addressing a gathering at the State House in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on March 12, 2018.

 

Three days after President Muhammadu Buhari visited Benue State, the state government has said the visit did not rekindle any hope in the people.

Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom on Media and ICT, Mr Tahaz Agerzua, stated said on Thursday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

READ ALSO: Convince Your People We’re Doing Our Best, Buhari Begs Benue Leaders

“We appreciate the visit, but we didn’t get any hope,” he said. “In Benue State, the President did not condole with us.”

“We appreciate that he was able to take his time and come and sit down for several hours to listen to the stakeholders, but he did not sympathise with the families,” the governor’s aide added.

 

Special Adviser to Benue Governor on Media and ICT, Mr Tahaz Agerzua, reacts to President Buhari’s visit during his appearance on Sunrise Daily on March 15.

 

The President’s visit to Benue comes weeks after some communities in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas of the state were attacked by suspected herdsmen.

After conducting a mass burial for at least 70 persons in the wake of the killings, the state government is preparing to bury more victims of the attacks.

Ortom Asks Buhari To Upgrade Exercise Cat Race

Reacting to the recent killings on behalf of Ortom, Agerzua said the people of the state expected the Commander-in-Chief to assure them of chasing the ‘invaders’ from the state.

Referring to the Miyetti Allah Kuatal Hore, he alleged that the group had issued a threat to resist the Anti-Open Grazing Law being implemented in the state.

“What we expected from the President was to give us assurance that the invaders would be chased out; there are presently 170,000 displaced people in eight counts across the state, that is a huge humanitarian crisis.

“We thought that there would be some word of chasing these people so that the displaced can return to their houses,” the governor’s aide said.

He further dismissed claims that the state government had sent the herdsmen parking from the state, in retaliation for the reported killings.

Ortom’s adviser, however, maintained that the status of the grazing law remains the same while the herdsmen are advised to abide by it.

According to him, the move s to avoid cattle from further destroying farm produce that might result in more clashes between the farmers and the herders.

Earlier, President Buhari had during his visit to Benue on Monday, appealed to leaders of various groups in the state to convince their constituents that the Federal Government was doing its best to end the recurring attacks by armed herdsmen in various parts of the country.

On his part, Governor Ortom had asked the President to upgrade Exercise Cat Race to a full military operation to further tackle the farmers-herdsmen crisis.

Benue Govt. Sacks Executive Secretary Of Exam Board

The Benue State government has sacked the Executive Secretary of the Benue State Examination Board, Charles Kwaghger.

Reports say that the sack was due to issues surrounding his redeployment back to Teaching Service Board.

The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar made this known in an interview with journalists, he said that the suspended Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in Benue State is to be conducted next week.

Professor Ityavyar stated that already the time table for the examination has been prepared and would be released very soon.

He explained that the examination was initially suspended due to management issues at the Benue State Examination Board which would have affected its integrity.

The Education, Science and Technology Commissioner noted that the board is being re-positioned with the redeployment of its Executive Secretary and nine other management staff and appointment of an acting Executive Secretary.

” I read on the social media that the Execution Secretary of the board, Mister Charles Kwaghger was sacked because of corruption, but that is not true”.

” The issues surrounding his redeployment back to Teaching Service Board where he came from, is purely on management grounds and we are working to address the problem, already there is an Acting Executive Secretary who is working on the release of the examination timetable”.

Professor Ityavyar stated that Government also canceled MOCK examination because the board was charging students up to N50,000 to conduct an examination that is not very important.

The commissioner who said parents have applauded the Government for taking the decision said schools have been directed to conduct the MOCK examination without collecting money from students.

” We had to cancel the usual Mock examinations preparatory to WAEC/NECO examinations, because parents complained about the high fee charged by the schools, when in actual sense, you cannot use Mock examination result to seek admission, nor employment, so why spend that much money”?

” Some schools were charging as high as Fifteen thousand Naira ( N15,000) and parents have applauded this decision”.

On the ongoing ASUU strike at the Benue State University, Professor Ityavyar said Government has agreed to pay the six years earned allowances arrears in twenty four months and wondered why the union rejected the offer.

Benue Govt. Takes Crowd Funding Campaign To Schools

Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom

The Benue State government has taken its campaign on crowd funding scheme to parents and teachers across the state, to solicit support from communities and individuals for the improvement of public primary schools.

The state coordinator of the Benue People Education Project PEBEP, Mrs. Betty Kajoh in company of the Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr Philip Tachin inspected the ongoing reconstruction of over 700 public schools says, a lot more can be achieved with public support.

The Samuel Ortom administration, according to the SUBEB Chairman, inherited a lot of dilapidated public primary school structures, but reconstruction work has reached 80% completion in the over 700 projects.

Primary school pupils in Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue state are said to be taking classes in one of the many dilapidated public primary schools across the state.

At the Local Government Education Authority school in Lesser, Ushongu Local Government, school facilities like doors, windows and desks, are by far, luxuries these pupils cannot afford.

But all hope is not lost, as the Benue state government has almost completed work on the new class room blocks for them.

Many of the projects have been completed, while finishing touches and dressing is ongoing in some cases.

Pupils and teachers at Saint Anne’s primary school Adikpo, gathered to receive the state government team and made a few request.

“I think the government should provide sound learning environment like good class rooms to enable us improve leaning. The teaching is very good and sound, which is what I love here most”.

“We are 25 teachers in number in the school and pupils are over 300. The challenges we have here, are lack of infrastructure like class rooms, desks and instructional materials.

If the government can look into these problems, we will be happy”.

The Executive Chairman of SUBEB, Mister Philip Tachin, gave assurances on the standard of work and delivery.

“To be fair, I am pleased with some of the contractors on the job done so far. A number of places, they have done the projects according to specifications with solid floors, ceiling and roofing, but in some places, the contractors will have to step up their performance, especially with the finishing because I insist, without good finishing, I will not pay them”.

The state Coordinator of BEPEB, Betty Kajoh, appealed to the communities, parents and well to do individuals to support the rehabilitation work of the state government.

“In grade one level, they have five classes and they had to merge A, B, C and D in one class, you can imagine some of them sitting on windows. Within us here, there are people who can give us N200. 00, N500. 00 and N1000. 00 and it will not hurt them”.

“If we had a million people in Benue state giving us N1000. 00 only, we would raise a billion naira which will translate to these buildings, teacher training, computers and Science Labs”.

“To run a strong academic programme, we need a lot of money, If you don’t have money, give us produce, we are collecting yams, garri and soya beans”.

From the three Senatorial district of the state, work on the over 700 projects of reconstructing the dilapidated primary school class rooms, have reached advanced stages.

Benue Govt. Begins Campaign To Increase IGR

Benue Govt. Begins Campaign To Increase IGRThe Benue state government has flagged off its tax and informal sector business enumeration exercise across the state with a view to shore-up its internally generated revenue by 30%.

The move follows report of non-remittances of tax revenue by the informal sector and some businesses in the formal sector.

The state government, at an executive council meeting presided over by Governor Samuel Ortom, constituted a committee headed by the Commissioner of Finance to fast-track its implementation and enforce compliance.