Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has denied claims that the killings in Benue were the outcome of a planned agenda to eliminate the people.
Osibajo, who is Benue on a two-day working visit, made the denial on Tuesday during a stakeholders meeting at the Benue People’s Government House, Makurdi. He said the Federal Government was determined to prove such insinuations false by rebuilding all damaged communities in the country.
He said the anger and disappointment expressed by the people at the meeting was “right and justified” but assured that government was committed to providing security for their protection. He said there were several intervention that had been initiated to make life bearable to them.
The Vice President assured that the government would “dig deep into the root cause of the crises to find lasting solutions to it.” He also dismissed the religious colorations attached to the killings, saying ” persecutions have always been with Christians and it is the duty of Christians to stop it”. ”
The gospel of Jesus can not be killed by anybody; it is not fragile or written on a piece of paper,” he explained. He said the recent recruitments into the various arms of the security agencies was aimed at providing effective security protection to the people, especially communities under frequent attacks.
The vice president also condoled with the Catholic Church for the attack on its priests and worshippers at Saint Ignatius Parish Mbalom where 18 people including two catholic priests were killed by suspected armed herdsmen. Earlier in an address, Gov Samuel Ortom, called on the federal government to fish out the killers of the two priests and their parishioners that were murdered in cold blood by gunmen.
He also called for more humanitarian aide to the state to handle the displaced people who were living in inappropriate sanitary conditions. Also speaking at the meeting, Maj-Gen Lawrence Onoja(Rtd) called for the establishment of “Middle Belt Reconstruction Commission” to tackle the most of the challenges the state faced especially in agriculture. He also called on the federal government to arrest the killer- herdsmen and provide protection to farmers to enable them return to their farms.
The Catholic Bishop of Gboko Diocese, Most Rev.Williams Avenya, regretted the attacks on innocent citizens and called on the government to encourage the ranching of livestock as a panacea to the blood bath in the Benue valley. Also in a remark, the Speaker, Benue House of Assembly, Mr Terkimbi Ikyange, called on the government to encourage the adoption of the Anti- Open Grazing Law by all states to end the acrimonious relationship with herders in the country.
A former Vice Chancellor, ABU Zaria, Prof Daniel Saror, appealed to the federal government to chase out the herders who he claimed had taken over their farmlands and occupying their houses. For Dr Magdalyne Dura, a lecturer, the N10 billion earmarked to rebuild damaged communities was inadequate, considering the volume of damage done by the herders. Other speakers who also supported the adoption of the anti open grazing law included; former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Mike Aondoakaa, Brig-Atom Kpera, Prof Tony Ijohor and Prof Jerry Agada.(NAN)