Samuel Ortom of Benue State said yesterday that only five of the 23 Local Government Areas of the state were free from attacks by herdsmen. Ortom stated this during his first official interaction with newsmen since he returned from his vacation from the People’s Republic of China two days ago. He regretted the continued onslaught against the state by killer- herdsmen and called for vigilance from the people.
He, however, assured that President Muhammadu Buhari, was working round the clock with his security chiefs to end the attacks. According to him, the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, would soon visit the state to address some of the challenges and assured that “very soon they would become a thing of the past”.
He said the transfer of his security aides was also cancelled and explained that all political leaders in the country had the right to chose their security details. Ortom also condemned the burning of over 300 houses by the Nigerian Army in Naka as well as the killing of a soldier by hoodlums in the area. He said neither the killing of the soldier nor the arson that followed the killing could be justified in law.
He, however, disclosed that the five suspects linked to the soldier’s death were handed over to the police and wondered why the soldiers still went ahead to burn houses. Ortom said the arrested people were nabbed by the Gwer West Council chairman and traditional rulers. According to him, the action of the council chairman and traditional rulers underscored their disgust at the unlawful behavior of killing the soldier by taking the laws into their hands.
“This is a clear demonstration that they were not in support of the killing of the soldier,” he said. The governor said he had reported the invasion of Naka town by soldiers to the Army chief , who promised to deal decisively with any Army personnel found culpable. He disclosed that until the report of the COAS was out and the outcome made public, the state government would have nothing to do.
He warned against reprisals no matter the level of provocation. “Reprisal of any kind will not be accepted by my government and blood shed should not take place in the state no matter the situation. “When you allow lawlessness to prevail, you are calling for anarchy and when anarchy is allowed to prevail it will unleash a lot of havoc in the society,” he said.
He promised not to interfere in the prosecution of his Livestock Guards Commander, Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku, who is under military detention for acts connected to the Boko Haram terror group, as well as recent killings in the state. “I have never intervened in the arrest and prosecution of any of my appointees, who is suspected to have committed murder and Tershaku’s case will not be different. I will allow law enforcement agencies to do their work,” he said.