THE EDUCATOR - February 8

Benue killings: Wike visits Benue graveyard of 73 victims

* urges Benue people to defend themselves against herdsmen’s attacks

Governor Wike, along with prominent sons of Rivers State, was in Benue, on Wednesday, to commiserate with the government and people of the state over the gruesome murder of 73 people by herdsmen in the wake of the New Year.

Nyeson Wike in the visit asked the Benue people to defend themselves against Fulani herdsmen invasion rather than waiting for help that may never come from the federal government.

He urged the Benue people to be ready to defend themselves in order to stop the incessant invasion of their land.

Speaking at the New Banquet Hall of Government House, in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, Governor Wike said it was high time the country sat down to proffer solution on how the menace of herdsmen attacks can be tackled.

In the words of the Rivers State governor, “Your pains are our pains. Take heart, God will fight for you. Rivers State will support Benue State governor. We will not abandon you in this struggle alone. Nothing justifies the loss of innocent lives whether the governor is right or wrong. What has happened to you has affected me.”
“There is so much death everywhere and no one is free again. There are so many widows, orphans for no just cause everywhere. The country must sit and proffer
solution to this menace. We must sit and acknowledge that we have failed and take steps to address it.

“We will not take laws into our hands but we must defend ourselves. Benue people must be prepared to defend themselves. There is nothing wrong in loving peace but don’t over love peace. God will fight for you but that does not mean that you shouldn’t fight for yourself.”

While noting that his coming had nothing to do with politics, Governor Wike, who lamented that everything had been reduced to politics in Nigeria, posited that even his coming may likely create more problems for Governor Ortom.

The Rivers State Governor had earlier visited the grave site where the 73 killed persons were buried where he prayed that the state would never witness such again. Later, he  announced a donation of N200 million to the Benue State Government to help cushion the effect of the burden of catering for the internally displaced persons scattered in seven camps across the state.

Responding, Governor Samuel Ortom thanked his Rives State counterpart for the visit and maintained that the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to Benue had not yielded much as Benue State is still under the siege of the Fulani herdsmen till date.
Governor Ortom expressed the hope that the new directive of the President that all the perpetrators of the Benue massacre be apprehended would be taken seriously this time around.

The Benue governor said instead of concentrating on the President’s directive by arresting leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH), the IGP has rather turned himself to the mouthpiece of the Fulani Socio cultural group and had been speaking and defending them.

According to Governor Ortom, “That is why we have asked him (IGP) to resign his appointment and take up the job of the spokesmen of MAKH. We are in a federation and our responsibility is to make laws but the enforcement of the law is the prerogative of security apparatus controlled by the Federal Government.

While positing that as government appointee, the IGP had no stake in how states make their laws, Ortom maintained that when some years back, the Zamfara State government enacted the controversial Sharia law, people who were not comfortable with the law had to relocate from the state and wondered why Benue anti open grazing law is looked at differently. The law is a product of the decision of the generality of the Benue people.

“We are getting to a point where we must lawfully defend ourselves because it will be foolishness on your part if somebody wants to hack you to death and you don’t put up any resistance. Benue people must be ready to defend themselves because even security men are no longer safe and some of them have been killed and others abducted by these herdsmen. Benue farm produce have now become feeds for Fulani cattle”

“Those who feel we are talking too much should give us justice. We have identified leadership of MAKH and have called for their arrest. We must join hands to fight our common enemy because no one is spared,” Ortom said.