The Benue State Security Council has suspended three traditional rulers following the crisis which resulted in the killing of nine persons in the state at the weekend.
Those suspended include the district head of Mbacher, Mr Luke Atomigba for allegedly inciting and sponsoring the crisis while the Third Class chiefs of Chongo and Ipuusu were suspended for alleged negligence and pursuit of clannish interest, fueling the crisis.
Briefing journalist on the resolutions reached after a long meeting, Chairman of the Council and Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, recommended the suspended chiefs for further disciplinary measures.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has closed his defence at the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Makurdi, after calling a witness in the petition filed by Mr Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressive Congress challenging his re-election.
Counsel to the governor, Mr Sebastian, who was the second respondent, told the tribunal that the cross-examination of the petitioner’s witnesses and their failure to sign the witness statements on oath, showed the petitioner’s inability to prove the allegation of irregularities at the poll.
On his part, counsel to the petitioner, Mr Kehinde Eleja, told journalists at the end of the sitting, that the petitioner has sufficiently proven its case of over-voting.
He said he believed the tribunal would determine that the use of card readers was compulsory in the 2019 general election.
Troops of ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ (OPWS) have arrested 10 suspects for armed banditry and kidnapping in Benue and Nasarawa States.
Parading eight of the suspects before newsmen at the operation whirl stroke headquarters in Makurdi at the weekend, the commander, Major General Adeyemi Yekini said five suspects were arrested in Toto and Awe Local Government areas of Nasarawa State while five others were arrested in Benue State.
The Benue State Government has described statements attributed to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity, Garba Shehu on the Ruga settlement on states by the federal government as false and misleading.
Mr Shehu had specifically cleared the air on Channels TV news at 10 on Monday, that Benue state was not included in the Federal Government’s Ruga plan, insisting that the initiative is voluntary.
According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, Mr Terver Akase, the Federal Government, through its ministry of agriculture wrote to the Benue state government informing it about the decision to establish Ruga settlements in the three senatorial zones of the state.
The spokesman added that the State Ministry of Agriculture which received the correspondence replied the Federal Ministry, stating clearly that Benue state had no land for the Ruga settlements, but has land for ranches as stipulated by the state’s open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law of 2017.
“Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu made last night during the 10 pm news of Channels Television. He stated that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom should not have spoken against the imposition of Ruga settlements on his state because, according to the Presidential spokesman, the Governor was not included in the Ruga plan.
“The statement was as contradictory as it was false, misleading and lacking honour.
“The Federal Government, through its Ministry of Agriculture wrote to the Benue State Government informing it about the decision to establish Ruga settlements in the three senatorial zones of the state.
“Our Ministry of Agriculture which received the correspondence responded that Benue has no land for the Ruga settlements. It added that the state only has land for ranches as stipulated by the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.”
He added that the Benue Government openly rejected the Ruga model, describing it as illegal.
“The Benue State Government subsequently made public its rejection of the Ruga model of animal husbandry and reminded those pushing for the illegal settlement patterns about provisions of the country’s Constitution and the Land Use Act.
“If the Senior Special Assistant to the President claims that Benue was not included in the Ruga arrangement, why did the Federal Government send contractors to mount the project’s signposts in parts of the state? If Benue was not included in the Ruga settlements, why did the Federal Government say it has gazetted lands in the 36 states for the project?
The Benue State Government has said that there is no land in the state that has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements.
The Presidency had earlier claimed in a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu that lands have been gazetted in the 36 states of the federation to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen.
Chief Press Secretary to Benue State Governor, Terver Akase, in a reaction to the statement, asked the FG to publicly tender documents of the claimed gazetted lands in Benue State.
“We read the statement issued yesterday by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu in which the Presidency stated that it has gazetted lands in the 36 states of the federation to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen.
“We wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements, contrary to the Presidency’s claim.
“We expect the Federal Government to publicly tender documents of the claimed gazetted lands in Benue State to put the matter to rest.”
Mr Akase also restated the position of the Benue Government on the Ruga project, adding that pieces of evidence of compensation should be provided by the Federal Government.
“The Federal Government should show titles to the lands it claims to have in Benue State, the evidence of compensation it paid to owners of such lands, as well as the purpose for which the lands were acquired.
“The Benue State Government has already made known its stand on the Ruga settlements matter that the state will not be part of the project. This was why the government and people of the state rejected the attempt to impose the Ruga settlements projects on them without the consent and approval of the Governor who controls and administers all lands in the state in trust for the people.”
He added that any persons, who intend to set up a livestock ranch, should do so based on the position of the law.
“We wish to restate that there is a law in Benue State which encourages ranching and prohibits open grazing of livestock. The law is a win-win for herders and farmers, as it protects all. Anyone who intends to establish a livestock ranch in Benue State is encouraged to follow the procedure stipulated by the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.”
The Benue State house of Assembly has condemned recent plans by the Federal Government to establish Ruga settlements across the country.
Speaker of the Assembly, Honourable Titus Uba, at a media briefing, told journalists that contrary to the claims that it would stop open-grazing by herdsmen and end the herders-farmers crisis, the FG has no constitutional powers to allocate land for the establishment of Ruga-Fulani settlements.
“It is with deep sense of patriotism and genuine concern for the welfare of the people of Benue state that I rise to condemn in strong terms, recent plans by the Federal Government to establish a Ruga settlement across the country which has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration which the FG claimed, will stop open grazing by Herdsmen and end herders/farmers crisis across the country.
“I hereby clearly state that the FG cannot freely allocate land for the establishment of Ruga Fulani settlement in Benue state and the Benue State Government will not give out the land for the Ruga initiative; even as there is inadequate land to meet the farming needs of the agrarian communities in the state.”
Honourable Uba further stated the position of the state Assembly, while showing support to the full implementation of the open grazing law.
“Therefore, the 9th Benue State House of Assembly as a parliament condemns in totality plans by any individual, group of the Federal Government to allocate any portion of land within the Benue territory for such a questionable project, instead support the full implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 as ranching remains global best practice.
“I hereby categorically state that the BSHA reject the move for Fulani Ruga settlement in Benue state, and instead, support the full implementation of the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law 2017, as ranching remains a global best practice.
“Benue House is 100% in support of Governor Samuel Ortom and the people of the state on the enforcement of the anti-open grazing law as a panacea for ending herders/farmers conflict.”
Youths from various Benue communities on Friday protested against the planned Ruga Farm settlement in the state.
The youths claim that the planned Ruga settlement for herders violates Open Grazing Law in the state and will instigate violent clashes between farmers and herders in the state.
The Benue State Government has imposed a 24 hour-curfew on Katsina-Ala town of the state with effect from today, Monday April 22, 2019 as part of efforts to restore peace and ensure the security of lives and property in that part of the state.
This is according to the chief press secretary of the state, Ede Ogaba Ede.
The curfew which comes into immediate effect shall be reviewed as the situation demands, Ede said.
Acting Governor of the State, Engineer Benson Abounu urged the people of Katsina-Ala to cooperate with security operatives by obeying the curfew.
The Government warned that anyone found fomenting trouble in the area or in other parts of the state will be apprehended and punished according to law.
The Benue State Government reassured the people that more security personnel have been deployed to Katsina-Ala to end the crisis, and it will continue to give security agencies every needed support to succeed.
Governor Samuel Ortom has dedicated his victory to his supporters and the people of Benue State for re-electing him for a second tenure.
Ortom, while addressing a press conference at the government house in Makurdi on Sunday, promised to set up a truth and reconciliation committee for genuine peace and development across the state, as extended a hand of collaboration to his opponents to join him in building the state.
“I dedicate the victory to the good people of Benue state for standing with me, especially all members of the PDP. I call on all those who contested, to join me so that together we shall build the Benue of our collective dream.”
Ortom was today declared winner of the March 9th governorship election after weeks of many political face-offs with his former political associates in the APC and now enjoins them to let peace reign.
“I know that partisan politics is over now and it’s about governance. The platform I secured to become an elected governor of Benue state is the PDP. Automatically, I have become the governor of all political parties in Benue state.”
“As we celebrate, let us engage in peaceful behaviours and reconciliation. Avoid use of hurtful and insulting political words. I will set up a peace reconciliatory committee so we can find ways to forgive one another.”
Meanwhile, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime, has declared that he will approach the election petition tribunal to reclaim his allegedly stolen mandate by incumbent governor, Samuel Ortom.
Jime who spoke exclusively to Channels Television alleged that a lot of votes secured by governor Ortom, were in clear violation of the electoral act which states that only votes captured by the card reader should be allowed, accusing the PDP of massive vote rigging.
The returning officer, Professor Maimako Sebastian while declaring governor Samuel Ortom winner said, Ortom polled 434,473 votes to beat Jime who got 345,155 votes with a lead margin of 89,318 votes after the final result of the final ballot.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has been re-elected for a second term.
The Returning Officer in the state, Professor Maimako Sebastian, declared him the winner on Sunday after he polled 434,473 votes to beat his closest rival and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime, who got 345,155 votes – a margin of 89,318.
The Collation Officer for Gboko Local Government Area in Benue State has been shot at and injured.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) confirmed this via a tweet on Sunday.
According to the Commission, Professor Mrs C.D Tuluen who was a Collation Officer during the governorship election in the state was shot at while on her way to Makurdi with the LGA collated result sheet.
INEC, however, noted that she was immediately rushed to a hospital where she is now receiving treatment.
The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, who is also the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, has urged his supporters to remain calm and work towards consolidating the mandate given him by turning out en mass when INEC fixes a date for the supplementary poll.
Mr Ortom made the call on Monday while addressing journalists after INEC declared the election inconclusive.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime, on the other hand, urged his supporters not to despair despite the poll gap between him and the governor.
He also believes that his party still has an advantage over the PDP and therefore, asked them to remain calm.
The Returning Officer, Professor Sabastine Maimako, had declared the results inconclusive on Monday.
According to him, it was as a result of the gap between the cancelled votes of 121,019 as against the winning margin between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is 81,554.