Police Arrest Two Kidnappers, Release Victim In Benue

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.

 

Police in Benue State have apprehended two suspected kidnappers and rescued an abducted from the abductors’ den. 

Spokesperson to the Benue command, SP Anene Sewuese, disclosed this in a brief report on Friday.

She revealed that on Thursday, a team of Operation Zenda JTF were on patrol within Otukpa, Ogbadibo LGA, when information was received that one Raphael Okpe of Akere village was kidnapped on his way to the farm.


READ ALSO: Police Arrest Boko Haram Bomb Manufacturer In Taraba


According to the police spokesperson, the team responded immediately and chased the kidnappers into their hideout where they engaged the gunmen in a duel.

Consequently, two of the suspects named Abdulahi Mohammed and Yusuf Saidu were arrested while the other suspects escaped with gunshot injuries.

The victim who was already shot in the leg by the hoodlums was rescued and taken to hospital where police say he is responding to treatment.

Following the arrest, ten rounds of AK47 ammunition were recovered from the kidnapers’ dungeon.

SP Sewuese said investigations are still ongoing, adding that the force will not rest on its oars till the suspects at large are apprehended.

Ortom Condemns Killing Of Benue Farmers, Asks Residents To Defend Themselves

A file photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

 

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has condemned the recent killing of farmers by gunmen suspected to be herders in Edumoga in Okpokwu Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

In a statement on Tuesday by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, the governor described the killing as barbaric and demanded justice for the victims.

He mourned the victims and described the murderers as cowards and criminals who must be fished out and prosecuted forthwith.

“When I started shouting about the menace of killer herdsmen in my state, many people thought I was playing to the gallery,” an angry Ortom was quoted as saying.

“Gradually, this has spread to all other parts of the country because the Federal Government has refused to act appropriately and decisively against them. This is the reason why they have continued with impunity.

“It has clearly shown that the killing of these innocent farmers in Edumoga, Okpokwu Local Government is yet another barbaric act by Fulani herdsmen. They must not go unpunished.”

READ ALSO: Police Confirm Attack On Benue Communities As Leaders Put Casualty Figures At 30

The armed men invaded Edumoga in the early hours of Sunday where they killed some locals while the whereabouts of several others had yet to be ascertained.

Although the police authorities in the state confirmed the incident, they did not give the actual number of residents killed during the attack.

Chairman of Okpokwu LGA, Mrs Amina Audu, told Channels Television that residents recovered three more bodies on Monday, bringing total casualty figure to 13.

Governor Ortom, in his reaction, warned that the peaceful attitude of Benue people who accommodate others must not be taken for granted.

He stressed that the law must take its course to apprehend the criminals no matter how long it takes, although he appealed to residents to remain law abiding.

The governor, however, reiterated his earlier call on the people to stand up to defend themselves against the invaders, saying the laws of the land allow for self-defence.

“We are capable of defending ourselves if authorities concerned refuse to do so. We are not cowards; we are just law abiding,“ he stated.

Democracy Day: Ortom Urges Nigerians To Rise Against Anti-Democratic Forces

A file photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom
A file photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has urged Nigerians to be on the alert against anti democratic forces saying “We must guard our democracy jealously.”

“By deliberate efforts and design, Nigerians opted for the presidential system of democracy because it is participatory and representative enough. It is a way of life that must be held sacrosanct, “ Ortom stated in his goodwill message to Nigerians to commemorate the June 12 struggle.

Governor Ortom recalled the tortuous journey to democratic rule and urged Nigerians to rise up to say “Never again shall we allow undemocratic forces take control of our collective destiny.”

The governor advocated for the need to strengthen democratic institutions in the country “so that the practice of democracy should not be at the dictates or the whims and caprices of a few individuals who think they will lord it over the general public but the wishes of the people.”

He pointed out that the unabating security situation “where armed Fulani terrorists are seizing our sovereignty is already a threat to our hard earned democracy, a development he lamented has not been given priority attention by the the current APC led federal government is a cause for  concern.”

Ortom added: “Democracy should be our way of life. It is freedom to exercise our franchise in an uninterrupted environment. But insecurity that has forced majority of our away from their ancestral lands and made their living conditions less than humans because they are now forced to live in shanties is a major challenge. This is why the federal government must wake up to their responsibility and tackle the menace headlong.”

He went on to state that “we cannot be celebrating democracy day when our citizens are now slaves and not free in their homes, schools, worship centres, workplaces and cannot go to their farms or even travel freely on our roads or by train. We must tackle the issue of insecurity courageously if we are to practice democracy freely.”

Looking back, Governor Ortom said his  administration has “in the last seven years, provided dividends of democracy in education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and other critical sectors of development, in the face of daunting economic and security challenges. We appreciate the people of Benue State for the support given us and assure them that our administration will not waver. We will sustain the tempo in this remaining year.”

While paying glowing tribute to the June 12, 1993, Democracy martyr, Chief M.K.O Abiola, Governor Ortom prayed that what led to the ill-fated third republic will not occur again in Nigeria.

Suspended Priest Emerges Benue APC Governorship Candidate

Revd. Father Hyacinth Alia.

 

Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia, who was recently suspended by the Bishop of Gkoko Catholic Diocese for engaging in partisan politics, has emerged as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State, following the adoption of direct primary mode by the party leadership. 

Chairman of the Benue State APC primary election committee Peter Ojie made the declaration at the party secretariat in Makurdi the state capital, to conclude the two-day-long process of direct primary elections better known as Option A4.

READ ALSOWith PDP, Nigeria Shall Rise Again – Ayu

Benue Speaker Beats Deputy Governor To Win PDP Governorship Ticket

Benue Assembly Speaker, Titus Uba, has defeated Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu to emerge as the PDP governorship candidate in Benue State.

 

The Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Titus Uba, has won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary in the state.

Uba emerged the winner of the exercise conducted on Wednesday at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi, the state capital.

He polled 731 votes to defeat the incumbent Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, who raked in 81 votes.

Reacting, the Speaker thanked the delegates and party leadership for trusting him with their mandate.

READ ALSO: Peter Obi Withdraws From PDP Presidential Primary, Dumps Party

This is even as he called for unity among party fateful to emerge victorious in the forthcoming governorship election in 2023, pledging to work with his fellow aspirants.

“One of the greatest days in my life is today and I want to give this to the delegates of our great party who have made the moment what it is now and who have come together to give me the opportunity to fly the flag of PDP in 2023,” he said.

“Responsibility they say is collective. Responsibility to our party is for us to put our heads together and move this state forward. Your Excellency, I am overwhelmed, my speech is filled with joy that I cannot express now.”

In his remarks, Abounu accepted the outcome of the election while briefing journalists in the state capital.

According to him, no human being can swim against the tide but God only.

“The party authority has spoken and the party authority has spoken well – loud and clear and that is how the tide goes,” he said.

“All I can say is that only God can make it possible for somebody like me who is a creation of God to be governor of Benue State.”

It Is Unfair To Say Buhari Ignores Victims Of Attacks In Nigeria – Presidency

Presidential aide Garba Shehu has refuted claims that his principal pays less attention to victims of attacks in the country. 

He spoke on Friday while responding to the debates generated following President Muhammadu Buhari’s condolence visit to the United Arab Emirates over the death of the country’s president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“Those Nigerians should be told that they should look at all of the facts. I have accompanied the president to Sokoto on a condolence visit after a major incident,” the aide said on Channels Television’s Politics Today. 

“However, it is unfair also to make the conclusion wrongly that he had not paid attention or had not visited. He had been to Maiduguri quite a number of times,” he added.

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He said: “I accompanied him to Zamfara. He spoke to the governor, parliamentarians, religious and traditional leaders.

“I accompanied the President to Benue State. He addressed the governor in the Government House, Makurdi, after a major incident. I accompanied him to Jos after a crisis.

“So, did the President go to all the places where there have been incidents of violence or killings? No, he did not go.”

“It depends on what Nigerians choose to look at. The president has been responsive and he has been discharging the obligations that rest upon him as the president and commander-in-chief, in dealing with all of these matters. He has not cut short in any way.

“The point I want to make is that the administration has been very responsive. You just mentioned the railway incident in Kaduna, and this last week, the incident in Kano of an explosion.

“The vice-president of Nigeria was in both places. This country has one presidency. If the president is not there on account of engagements and the vice-president is there, let us take it that the presidency of Nigeria has attended to those matters.”

Buhari is expected back to the country this weekend.

Ochanya: Court Acquits Lecturer Accused Of Rape, Another Jails Wife For Negligence

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues
File photo

 

A Makurdi High Court in Benue State has acquitted Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, accused of raping and causing the death of Ochanya Ogbanje, a 13-year-old schoolgirl, in 2018.

Justice Augustine Ityonyiman acquitted Ogbuja of the charges filed against him on Wednesday while delivering judgment on the case at the court in the state capital.

Ogbuja and his son, Victor, who are both maternal relations of the victim, were accused of serially raping her until she fell ill and subsequently died.

Ochanya was admitted to the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi for two months before she died on October 17, 2018.

On October 10, 2019, the Benue State government arraigned 54-year-old Ogbuja before the Makurdi High Court on four counts of rape and Ochanya’s death.

 

The Acquittal

Delivering judgment on the case, Justice Ityonyiman held that the prosecution failed to prove the four counts against Mr Ogbuja.

He explained that the police investigators failed to subject the defendant to medical examination, in order to match his specimen with the findings in the medical reports that were presented before the court.

In evaluating the evidence, the judge held that two autopsy reports from the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi and the Nigerian Police Forensic Laboratory in Lagos left him quandary.

“I cannot pick and choose which of the autopsy reports to rely on in reaching a just conclusion of this case,” he said.

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Justice Ityonyiman added that while the autopsy report from the Medical Centre in Makurdi said Miss Ochanya died of “natural cause”, the one from the police forensic laboratory revealed that the deceased “suffered diseases that were related to sexual abuse.”

Despite narrating her ordeals at the hands of the Ogbujas in a video tendered before the court, he said, “it is regrettable that the deceased could not tell her story before she died.”

“I hereby acquit and discharge the defendant of all the four count-charge.”

 

Wife Convicted

Elsewhere, Justice Mobolaji Olajunwo of the Federal High Court in Makurdi convicted Ogbuja’s wife, Mrs Felicia, for negligence in the rape of the deceased.

Felicia, on her part, was arraigned by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) over negligence that led to the rape and death of Ochanya.

The anti-trafficking agency accused Mrs Ogbuja of failing in her duty to protect the deceased from being raped by her husband and son.

In Mrs Ogbuja’s case which coincided with that of her husband, Justice Olajunwo held that the defendant failed in her duty to protect Ochanya from ‘being sexually abused by her son, Victor’.

According to her, the victim was being abused by Felicia’s son but the defendant who owed the girl the duty of care to ensure that she was protected from such an act failed in doing so, even when her daughter, Winifred, drew her attention to the sexual assault.

The judge said the defendant made it impossible for the NAPTIP investigating officer to see and interrogate Winifred in the course of the investigation of the matter.

Agreeing with the prosecution, she said “the evidence that Ochanya told the defendant (Mrs Ogbuja) about what was going on, and was not successfully challenged,” proved NAPTIP’s case.

Justice Olajunwo also held that Felicia failed to challenge the prosecution’s evidence that she “threatened to send Ochanya out of her house if she told anyone about the sexual abuse.

“This evidence has neither been challenged nor controverted. The defendant failed to perform her duty as it concerned the well-being of Ochanya, particularly as it comes to her protection from being sexually abused.”

“The fourth prosecution witness, in his testimony, said Ochanya upon been presented for medical examination complained of passing urine uncontrollably and had serious pain in the lower abdomen.

“When Ochanya was examined, it was discovered that the membrane covering the vagina opening was not there, which is an indication that Ochanya had been disvirgined,” the judge stated while recalling the prosecution’s evidence.

Before sentencing the convict, Felicia’s lawyer, Abel Onoja, pleaded for leniency and called two witnesses in frantic efforts to save his client.

But Justice Olajunwo sentenced Mrs Ogbuja to five months imprisonment without an option of a fine, after listening to her lawyer’s plea for clemency.

“Taking into consideration the testimonies of witnesses that testified to the defendant’s character, the number of months contained in the law shall be reduced by the court.

“Therefore, the defendant is sentenced to five months imprisonment with no option of fine,” she held.

 

Search For Education

Miss Ochanya, in search of a sound education, had left her rural home at Ogene-Amejo for Ugbokolo township where she lived with the Ogbujas. Mrs Ogbuja is said to be Ochanya’s maternal relation.

The Ogbujas residence, where they lived with the deceased, was said to be located on a street almost opposite the Emmanuel Primary and Secondary School where Ochanya obtained her primary education in Ugbokolo, Benue State.

Ochanya, who was a JSS1 pupil of the Federal Government Girls College Gboko in Benue State, died of complications linked to the alleged serial rape by Mr Ogbuja and his fugitive son.

Mr Ogbuja was later arraigned on four counts of sexual abuse of the late Ochanya during a period of over five years, which resulted in her death in October 2018.

The father and son allegedly abused the late Ochanya while she was living with them. But the son, Victor, disappeared after police started looking for him and his father over the case.

Doctors later diagnosed Ochanya with Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) – a disease attributed to the serial rape allegedly by the two men.

23 Locals Killed In Fresh Attacks On Two Benue Communities

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in north-central Nigeria.

 

At least 23 locals have been killed when some persons believed to be herders attacked two communities in Benue State.

The attacks occurred on Monday night at Mbadwem and Tiortyu communities in Guma and Tiortyu Local Government Areas respectively, state authorities said.

Nathaniel Ikyur, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, confirmed the killings in a statement on Tuesday.

In his reaction, Governor Ortom condemned the killings and asked the people of the state to rise to defend themselves forthwith.

“It is becoming increasingly glaring every day that my people are now an endangered species and so we can no longer wait for help from anywhere,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

“My people will have to rise up to the occasion to defend themselves and their heritage against the Fulani army of occupation.”

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Hospitality For Weakness?

Apart from the killings, the governor’s aide said scores of others were injured and have been taken to a hospital in the state for treatment.

During the attack on Mbadwem, no fewer than eight people were said to have been killed while 15 others lost their lives in Tiortyu.

“We are law-abiding citizens; we have cried for help against these invaders, but nothing is forthcoming,” Governor Ortom lamented. “We are left alone, and it looks like it is a deliberate strategy.

“Now we have only one option; to defend ourselves or get extinct. This is a case for our survival. We have been accommodating of other people in our land, but our hospitality is misconstrued as weakness. We are not a conquered people. We will never be. We are free-born citizens of Nigeria.”

The governor, however, called on the security agencies to do more in crime prevention and protect the lives and properties of the people in the state.

He also urged the residents to cooperate with security agencies to flush out the undesirable elements in the society.

The state government, Governor Ortom said, will not shy away from its commitment to providing welfare and security for its people.

Borno IDP Camp Fire: Minister Deploys Food To Victims

 

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouq has directed the immediate delivery of food and non-food items to victims of the Muna El-Badawy Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in Maiduguri.

This followed a fire incident on Saturday which razed over 3,000 shelters in the camp. In a statement on Sunday by her special media aide Nneka Ikem Anibeze, the minister expressed sadness at the incident which rendered over 3,000 households homeless.

READ ALSOOut-Of-School Children Challenge Not Peculiar To North, Says Humanitarian Ministry

“On behalf of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, I sympathize with the government and people of Borno state over the fire incident which killed some people and destroyed shelters.

“This disaster has rendered many more people without shelter even as government intensifies efforts to re-settle Internally Displaced Persons.

“The spate of fire incidents in IDP camps have become recurrent and the ministry is putting up measures to educate the IDPs on ways of preventing such fire disasters,” the statement added.

The fire, which reportedly started from a tent, engulfed 3,000 others due to the absence of firefighting facilities.

The National Emergency Management Agency NEMA and SEMA have already begun an on-the-field assessment of the damage.

The minister has since directed that the affected IDPs be provided with food, water, and grains as well as non-food items like clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, and other items to temporarily cushion the hardship in camp due to the incident.

‘Not A Tribal Clash,’ Police Blame Benue Violence On Hoodlums

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.

 

The police in Benue on Wednesday blamed the crisis around the Rice Mill area of Makurdi on hoodlums, saying the incident was purely a criminal act that had nothing to do with ethnicity or tribe.

In a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer, Catherine Anene, debunked the report of a clash between the people of Tiv and Jukum communities in Wurukum.

Rather, she described the claim as an attempt to create unnecessary tension in the state.

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“The attention of the Benue State Police Command has been drawn to the rumour lingering on social media about the crisis between Tiv and Jukum communities in Wurukum,” Anene said in the statement.

“The fact of the case is that on 16th February 2022 at about 1500hrs, information was received that some fishermen had gone fishing in a pond behind Rice Mill, Wurukum, Makurdi, without inviting other community members as it had been the practice.

“This action brought disagreement amongst them and hoodlums took advantage of the incident to break into houses and steal from them,” she narrated.

The command spokesperson explained that a team of police officers was swiftly deployed to the scene, but the suspects took to their heels on sighting the security operatives.

According to her, critical stakeholders have cooperated with the police in restoring peace in the area.

“It is imperative to state that this incident has nothing to do with tribe or ethnicity but criminals who intended to create tension and steal from members of the public,” Anene stressed.

“Normalcy has since been restored in the area with more patrol teams to forestall further breakdown of law and order.

“Members of the public are advised to desist from rumour-mongering to avoid unnecessary tension and reactions.”

Atiku Visits Benue, Donates N50m To IDPs

Former Vice President speaks during a visit to Benue State on February 6, 2022. Credit: @atiku

 

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has visited Benue State and donated N50 million to support Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the north-central state.

Speaking during a courtesy call on Governor Samuel Ortom, Atiku also called for more support for IDPs.

The former vice president also recalled how he led the first-ever private sector contribution to the fight against the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic which elicited and encouraged others to support the course.

READ ALSO: ICPC Has Recovered, Restrained N166.5bn Assets in Two-And-Half Years – Report

While calling for peaceful co-existence between the Fulanis and other tribes in the state and country, he warned against ethnic profiling, especially of criminals.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar poses for a group photograph with Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and other govt officials on February 6, 2022. Credit: @atiku.

 

He equally commended the administration of Governor Ortom for his peacebuilding efforts in Benue, calling on leaders to bring every Nigerian together, regardless of their religious, political, and ethnic differences.

The former vice president said he told the governor that since his last visit to Benue in 2019, he has always wished to see the IDP camps.

“I don’t label anybody, either ethnically or religiously. As leaders, we should try as much as possible to bring all our people together to understand themselves,” he said.

“The other time I visited the IDPs camp in 2019, since then I have not returned. I want to announce my own donation for their upkeep of N50 million.

“Let me recall at the beginning of the corona pandemic. I was one of the first initial donors in the private sector. My donation was not the highest, it was also N50 million. After that, so many donations came into billions.”

Over 1.5 million persons have been displaced following the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in the state with several others killed.

Four Persons Arrested For Allegedly Setting Obasanjo Farm Ablaze

A file photo of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

Four persons have been arrested for allegedly setting Obasanjo Farm ablaze.

The farm is located at Howe district of Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State on a large expanse of land where improved varieties of mango and other crops are cultivated in large quantities.

The arrest is coming days after the suspects set fire on the 2,420 hectares of farmland. In a statement, Kehinde Akinyemi, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s spokesman, described the incident as a bad development.

READ ALSO: Suspected Hoodlums Raze Obasanjo’s Farm In Benue

Authorities in the state had in the wake of the incident vowed to fish out the perpetrators for prosecution.

“It is discovered that the fire was an act of sabotage, the perpetrators must be brought to book,” Governor Samuel Ortom of  Benue State was quoted as saying in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur.

On his part, the former president appreciated those who had reached out to him following the incident, expressing happiness that there was no death reported after the inferno.