One Officer, 10 Soldiers Killed By Gunmen In Benue

 

 

Gunmen killed 10 soldiers and an officer in Benue State, the Nigerian Army said on Friday.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack but Benue is part of the middle belt region, where gangs have taken up arms after years of communal clashes between herders and farmers.

“Nigerian Army troops operating in Benue State came under attack while on routine operational task,” army spokesman Mohammed Yerima said in a statement, which gave no details of the time of the incident.

General Yerima further stated that the troops comprising one officer and ten soldiers were initially declared missing which prompted the deployment of a joint search and rescue team comprising NA troops and personnel of Operation Whirl Stroke.

READ ALSO: Five More Abducted Kaduna Students Regain Freedom

The search and rescue team, unfortunately, found all the missing troops dead in Konshisha LGA of Benue State. While the bodies of the slain troops were evacuated immediately.

The army said efforts are ongoing to track down the perpetrators of the heinous crime with a view to bringing them to justice.

Last month, Benue state governor Samuel Ortom said he had escaped an attack by armed herders while travelling in a convoy.

Deadly clashes between nomadic Fulani herders and farmers over land, grazing, and water have plagued central parts of the country for years.

Nigeria’s security forces are battling on several fronts — a more than decade-long jihadist insurgency in the northeast, criminal gangs in the northwest, and a separatist militia in the southeast.

Killers Of Benue Catholic Priest Will Be Arrested, Ortom Assures

A file photo of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom
A file photo of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has assured that the killers of a Catholic priest in the state, Ferdinand Ngugban will be arrested.

Ortom in a statement issued on Wednesday by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, Tuesday condemned the killing of Ngugban, who until his death was in charge of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Aye-Twar village of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area.

He reassured the people of “Katsina-Ala and Sankera in general that the State Government will not relent until those responsible for the killing and other attacks in that part of the state are brought to justice.”

The governor, while wondering why a harmless priest would become the target of armed men, reiterated “the resolve of his administration not to handover the state to criminals.”

READ ALSO: At Least 15 Killed As Suspected Herdsmen Attack Communities In Ebonyi

He also asked the people of the state to support security operatives with timely and useful information.

While sympathising with the bereaved family, Governor Ortom prayed that God would grant the soul of Reverend Father Ngugban eternal rest.

Gunmen had in the early hours of Tuesday killed a priest and three other parishioners in the Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of the state.

According to locals, the gunmen stormed the village called Agu Centre in Mbatyula/Mberev council in the state around 7:00 am when the church was closing for morning mass.

Attack On Ortom: Kyari Leads IGP’s Special Team To Benue

Governor Samuel Ortom addressed reporters on March 20, 2021 after surviving an attack by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
Governor Samuel Ortom addresses reporters on March 20, 2021 after surviving an attack by gunmen.

 

Following an attack on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom by gunmen, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has dispatched a special team to Makurdi.

The team, a Special Investigative Task Force, is being led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, whom the police authorities described as a no-nonsense investigator.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Sunday by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, adding that the team has arrived in the north-central state.

According to a statement, the team consists of operatives from the Tactical Investigation Units of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) and other experienced, crack detectives with specialised competencies in crime scene investigation and reconstruction, ballistics, fingerprint analysis and other core areas of forensics.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Attack Governor Ortom In Benue

One of the core mandates of the team is “to take over and consolidate all on-going investigation into the incident.

“The Team is also expected to investigate all angles of the reported attack with a view to ensuring that all persons empirically linked to the incident are apprehended and brought to book.”

IGP Adamu also charged the team to be professional, thorough and clinical in their investigations, stressing that they should “liaise and work with the Benue State Police Command and other relevant members of the law enforcement community to ensure that they deliver on their mandate.”

The attack on the governor occurred on March 20 at Tyo Mu along the Makurdi-Gboko Road in Makurdi Local Government Area of the state.

Recounting how it occurred, Governor Ortom had told reporters that the gunmen who attacked him were “herdsmen”.

According to him, the armed men numbering about 15 trailed him to the riverbank where he was on foot.

The governor said his security details, who were just about six in number, swiftly responded to the attack and repelled the assailants after which they provided cover for him to return to safety.

Reps Condemn Attack On Ortom, Say Offenders Must Face Justice

 

Members of the House of Representatives have condemned the attack on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

The lawmakers condemned the incident when the matter came up during plenary on Tuesday at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

They described the attack on the governor as an indication of anarchy and full-scale lawlessness in the country.

The lawmakers, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for promptly ordering an investigation into the incident.

They also called on the security agencies to ensure that those involved after the investigation were brought to justice, to serve as a deterrent to others.

The attack on Governor Ortom occurred on Saturday last week at Tyo Mu along the Makurdi-Gboko Road in Makurdi Local Government Area of the state.

READ ALSO: Courts Remands Suspects Linked To Ekiti Bye-Election Violence

Recounting how it occurred, the governor had told reporters that gunmen numbering about 15 trailed him to the riverbank where he was on foot.

Governor Samuel Ortom addressed reporters on March 20, 2021 after surviving an attack by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
(FILE) Governor Samuel Ortom addresses reporters on March 20, 2021, after surviving an attack by gunmen.

 

The governor said his security details, who were just about six in number, swiftly responded to the attack and repelled the assailants after which they provided cover for him to return to safety.

A file photo of members of the House of Representatives during a plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Similarly, a petition by a group of Tiv indigenes from Benue State in the diaspora which generated controversy last week has been laid before the House.

The petition was presented by the lawmaker representing Gwer East/ Gwer West Constituency of Benue, Mark Gbillah, during the plenary presided by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.

It was filed by a group – Mzough U Tiv Amerika (MUTA) on the insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba States.

Gbillah informed his colleagues that he was submitting the petition on behalf of the group because Tiv indigenes of the affected states had been sacked from their ancestral lands.

At the plenary held on March 11, the lawmaker had attempted to present the petition, but it was rejected by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase, who presided in the absence of the speaker.

Wase had declared that Nigerians in the diaspora have no right to send petitions to the House on issues happening in Nigeria.

He has since denied his action despite compelling video evidence.

IGP Directs Benue CP To Boost Security Around Ortom And Across State

Governor Samuel Ortom addressed reporters on March 20, 2021 after surviving an attack by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
Governor Samuel Ortom addresses reporters on March 20, 2021, after surviving an attack by gunmen.

 

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has directed the Commissioner of Police in Benue to take adequate measures towards strengthening and improving security in the state, particularly around the governor.

Adamu’s directive followed Saturday’s attack on Governor Samuel Ortom while he was at his farm on the outskirts of Makurdi, the state capital.

In a statement on Sunday by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, the police chief ordered full-scale investigations into the circumstances surrounding the attack.

He specifically directed the police commissioner in Benue to carry out painstaking investigations into the incident and ensure the arrest and prosecution of persons indicted in the course of the investigations.

The IGP stressed the need to ensure speedy, thorough, and conclusive investigations into the attack.

As part of efforts to achieve this, he ordered the immediate deployment of a team of specialised investigators from the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) in Abuja to Benue State.

Adamu asked the detectives to provide additional investigative support to the Benue State Police Command to ensure that the incident was thoroughly probed.

He, however, called for calm and assured the people of Benue and the country at large that the Force would continue to do its best in stabilising the security situation in the country.

A file photo of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, at a meeting in Abuja.

 

The IGP stated that the police would continue to work with relevant stakeholders to advance the fight against violent crimes and other criminal activities across the country.

The attack on the governor occurred on Saturday at Tyo Mu along the Makurdi-Gboko Road in Makurdi Local Government Area of the state.

Recounting how it occurred, Governor Ortom had told reporters that the gunmen who attacked him were “herdsmen”.

According to him, the armed men numbering about 15 trailed him to the riverbank where he was on foot.

The governor said his security details, who were just about six in number, swiftly responded to the attack and repelled the assailants after which they provided cover for him to return to safety.

PDP Condemns ‘Reckless’ Attack On Governor Ortom

A file photo of the PDP logo.

 

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday condemned the attack on Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, describing it as “reckless” and an “assassination attempt”.

Governor Ortom was attacked earlier on Saturday by suspected herdsmen while visiting a farm in Makurdi.

But his security detail was able to repel them.

Mr Ortom said he ran for “more than one and a half kilometres without stopping” to escape the assault.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Attack Governor Ortom In Benue

“The party calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to put machinery in motion by ordering an immediate manhunt, arrest and prosecution of the assailants and beef up security around the governor,” the PDP said in a statement signed by spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan.

“The PDP expresses shock that the assailants trailed Governor Ortom and opened fire on him and his aides along Makurdi/Gboko road, in an attack that by every indication is aimed to assassinate the governor.

“Our party is worried that this brazen attempt at Governor Ortom’s life is coming on the heels of his outspokenness in exposing those allegedly behind the incessant attacks of communities in the state and demanding that the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility on the protection of life and property in the state.

“The PDP fears for the life of Governor Ortom and we urge Nigerians to hold the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration responsible over its failure to take a decisive step to check the escalated insecurity and brazen attacks on innocent Nigerians.

“The PDP however calls on Governor Ortom not to be deterred by the attack but to remain courageous and at alert, at all times while providing leadership to the people of his state.

“The party also calls on the people of Benue State to be calm and vigilant while providing useful information to security agencies to flush bandits and criminal elements out of the state and other parts of the country.”

‘They Are In The Forest’: Ortom Asks Buhari To Fish Out Criminals Terrorising Benue

 

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on Saturday called on President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies to fish out the criminals terrorising the state.

Mr Ortom spoke to reporters after surviving an attack allegedly carried out by armed herdsmen in Makurdi.

He was visiting a farm when the attackers struck but his security detail was able to repel them.

Mr Ortom said he ran for “more than one and a half kilometres without stopping” to escape the assault.

Benue is one of the States at the centre of Nigeria’s farmers-herdsmen clashes.

What Ortom Said On Saturday?

“I appreciate the security men attached to me. They were able to repel them and they could not have access to me. And thank God for my fitness to have ran for more than one and a half kilometres without stopping. It means that God has given me strength and I am grateful to God.

“I don’t have problems with any Fulani man or Fulani race. But I have a problem with Fulani bandits who have vowed to take over Nigeria as their ancestral home. And I say no. Not when I am here and when I am Governor leading my state. If I can’t go the farm as Governor, with the entire security around me, then who else can go to farm. You can imagine the pains that we have here in Benue State.

Governor Samuel Ortom addressed reporters on March 20, 2021 after surviving an attack by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
Governor Samuel Ortom addressed reporters on March 20, 2021 after surviving an attack by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.

 

“Thank God for Mr President who responded to my letter that anyone with AK-47 should be shot at sight. I’m yet to see that. Let me see it happen in Benue State.

“I have reported these to the security agencies and I hope that this will be done so that the land will be safe for our people to go back to farm and do their work and survive and live their lives.

“I want to call on Mr President, on the security agencies to fish these people out. They are in the forest between Makurdi and Abinse. They are living there and they are coming out to commit atrocities – rape women, kill our people, maim them, destroy our farmlands. And anytime the security agencies go after them, they run across the river and back to the forest.”

Gunmen Attack Governor Ortom In Benue

 

Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen have attacked Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

Channels Television gathered that the incident happened on Saturday at Tyo Mu along Makurdi/Gboko road in Makurdi Local Government Area of the state.

Briefing journalists, Ortom, who described the gunmen as ‘herdsmen’, said about 15 of the attackers trailed him to the river bank where he was on foot.

READ ALSO: FG To Provide Legal Aid To Nigerian Lady Wrongfully Jailed In Cote D’Ivore

The governor praised his security details that were just about six in number for responding quickly to the attack and repelled them promptly before providing cover for him to return to safety and his vehicle.

“My lawyer is going to make a petition against the leadership of MACBAN because they came out to target me and behind the scene, they are planning to eliminate me on my own land,” he said.

“If I can’t go to the farm as governor with entire security around me then who else can go to the farm? You can imagine the pains that we have here in Benue State.

“I appreciate the security personnel attached to me they were able to repel them and they could not have access to me,” Ortom stated.

A file photo of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom
A file photo of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom

 

He said troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, the police, and DSS have been mobilised to the forest between Tyo-Mu and Abinse where the armed herdsmen are camped to comb the area.

He also called for the arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who only last week, gathered in Yola, the Adamawa State capital to single him out for assassination.

Speaking further, Ortom asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the security chiefs to expect a formal petition from his lawyers and move quickly to arrest the situation.

Killers Of Terkura Suswam Must Be Brought To Justice – Ortom

Governor Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has reacted to the killing of Terkura Suswam, elder brother to the Senator representing Benue North East, Senator Gabriel Suswam saying the killers must be apprehended.

The Governor in a statement signed on Wednesday by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase said his administration will give security operatives maximum support to ensure that the killers are arrested and made to face consequences of their action.

READ ALSO: Again, Bandits Abduct Over 50 Passengers In Niger

“Governor Ortom stresses that his administration will not surrender Benue to criminals, and gives assurance that killers and kidnapers operating in Sankera axis of the State won’t go unpunished,” the statement added.

He sympathised with Senator Suswam and the rest of the family, as well as the entire people of Logo Local Government Area over the painful death of Terkura Suswam.

He prayed that God grants the deceased eternal rest and his family the strength to bear the loss.

A group of gunmen on Tuesday night killed Terkura Suswam, elder brother to former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam.

His aide, simply identified as Mr Solomon was also killed by the gunmen.

According to the police, the attack took place when Suswam and his aide sat opposite his house at Elohim Plaza Anyiin to supervise repairs at the plaza. The gunmen who drove in a Toyota Camry vehicle attacked and shot them.

The police statement which was signed by the spokesperson in the state, Anene Sewuese Catherine added that victims were rushed to NKST Anyii hospital where they were eventually confirmed dead.

AK-47 Comments: Ortom, Mohammed Reconcile, Embrace Each Other

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom embraces his Bauchi counterpart, Bala Mohammed following their reconciliation on March 2, 2021 in Rivers State.

 

Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom have settled their differences over comments made on AK-47  amid the security situation in the country.

Mohammed had on February 12 said Fulani herders have no option but to carry AK-47 for self-defence because they are being attacked and killed by cattle rustlers.

He also condemned South West, South-East Governors, and also Governor Ortom over the manner in which they are handling farmer-herder clashes.

Governor Ortom had on February 22 responded to his Bauchi counterpart, accusing him of being a terrorist based on his utterances supporting herdsmen from carrying AK-47 to defend themselves.

Ortom also accused Mohammed of being a part of those threatening his life stressing that the Bauchi governor should be held responsible if anything happens to him.

READ ALSO: Six People Killed In Fresh Kaduna Village Attacks

Following the altercation between the two governors, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under whose platform they were elected into office, waded into their conflict.

Also, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and his Adamawa counterpart, Ahmadu Fintiri, initiated reconciliation efforts.

The efforts seemed to have paid off on Tuesday with governors Ortom and Mohammed embracing each other in Rivers State.

After a closed-door meeting at Wike’s private residence in Port Harcourt, the governors insisted that their arguments over a comment made by the Bauchi governor on the bearing of arms by herders were for the good of the country, not to cause an ethnic crisis.

See phots below:

Armed Herdsmen: PDP Wades Into Ortom/Bala Mohammed Disagreement

A photo collage of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom and Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it has waded into the current disagreement between Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom and Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed on the issue of herdsmen who carry AK-47.

The party in a series of tweet on Monday also called for calm between both parties.

It said, “@OfficialPDPNig assures that it has waded into the rift between Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, and his Benue State counterpart, Governor Samuel Ortom.

READ ALSO: National Livestock Plan, If Implemented, Will Solve Farmers-Herders Crisis – Lalong

“@OfficialPDPNig calls for calm as the internal reconciliation mechanism introduced by the hierarchy of the party between the two governors subsists.

“PDP however urges the Federal Government to take urgent steps to address the escalated security challenges in our country,” PDP said.

Governor Ortom had earlier on Monday accused his Bauchi State counterpart, Mohammed, of being a terrorist based on his utterances supporting herdsmen from carrying AK-47 to defend themselves.

Ortom also accused Mohammed of being a part of those threatening his life stressing that the Bauchi governor should be held responsible if anything happens to him.

He reacted to Governor Mohammed’s statement which said herders can carry AK-47 to defend themselves noting that “his recent outburst that Fulani herdsmen are justified for carrying AK-47 to protect themselves. I don’t know where the constitution of this country allows that.”

The Benue Governor, therefore, called on Governor Mohammed to render an unreserved apology and learn from the provisions of the constitution that, land both territorial,  forest, and aquatic, are vested on the governor of a state who holds them in trust, instead of indulging in inciting Fulani herdsmen against innocent Nigerians.

 

Bala Mohammed’s AK-47 Comment

Governor Bala Mohammed recently defended his comment about armed herders, explaining that he used AK-47 as a figure of speech for protection.

“It is a figure of speech to show you the despondence, the desperation and frustration, and the agony that this particular person is exposed to by his own people, by his own tribe and by other tribes who have all seen him as a criminal and therefore, he has the inalienable right to protect himself,” the governor said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily. 

This sparked more reactions.

His comment had earlier triggered a wave of condemnation from his counterparts and Nigerians alike, increasing calls for the prohibition of open-grazing.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and his Ondo counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, were quick to knock the Bauchi governor’s statement. Akeredolu had described it as uncalled for, arguing that it could further escalate tensions in the West African nation.

Herdsmen/Farmers Crisis: Bauchi Gov’s Utterances Disappointing – Ortom

2019 Elections: Ortom Picks PDP Nomination Form
A file photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has described as disappointing, the comments made by his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed who blamed him for what he termed ‘negative perception of Fulani herders’ when he spoke on the current security situation in the country.

Governor Ortom in a statement issued on Friday by his spokesman, Terver Akase, said while he will not want to join issues with his counterpart, he finds it shocking that a colleague who took the oath of office as he also did, to protect and preserve the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now takes the lead in violating provisions of the same constitution by calling for lawlessness.

According to Ortom, the most shocking part of Governor Bala Mohammed’s statement was where he defended herdsmen for bearing arms saying “they have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them”.

The Benue governor questioned the section of the law the Bauchi governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.

READ ALSO: Herders Have No Option Other Than To Carry AK-47, Bala Mohammed Condemns Ortom, Others

“It was the same Governor Mohammed who once said on national television that a Fulani man is a global citizen and therefore does not need a visa to come to Nigeria and that the forests belong to herdsmen,” Ortom stated as he poked at Bala Mohammed’s political ideology.

Governor Ortom questioned if Mr Mohammed had a good knowledge of the horrendous activities of herders in parts of the country, arguing that if the Bauchi governor had the facts then he would not continue to put up emotional defences and justification in favour of the armed herdsmen.

In reference to Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people who are freely doing business in Bauchi and elsewhere, Ortom stated that Benue indigenes in Bauchi have been law-abiding and do not carry arms to attack their hosts, noting that Fulani, as well as many other Nigerians residing in Benue who respect laws of the land, also live peacefully with their hosts.

Ortom insisted that his administration has not driven away any law-abiding Nigerian in Benue State.

According to the governor, it is unfortunate that those who are trusted with the people’s mandate and should ordinarily uphold truth and justice have chosen to mislead the country.

He stressed the need for leaders to be cautious and retrace their steps which are capable of leading the country to anarchy.