GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that the activities of armed herdsmen in his state have become intolerable and left him no option than to order their expulsion.
Speaking to State House correspondents after attending a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) in Abuja on Thursday, he said his administration decided to apply the stick approach since all previous persuasive efforts have failed.
Ortom affirmed that the policy was meant to protect lives and property of people in the state which has been on the receiving end of the violent activities of the nomads.
He said he was unable to continue to watch while innocent people were being killed by the herders, noting that expelling armed herdsmen had not gone against the rule of law in the state.
He said that he had directed the security agencies to ensure that the armed herdsmen were also arrested and prosecuted if found in the state.
The governor said: “I ordered armed herdsmen out of my state. They are not friendly to my people. They are killing them and I cannot tolerate that. My job as governor is to provide security for lives and property. I cannot watch seeing people being killed unprovoked. It is not right.
“The only thing my people are living on is farming. When you go to their farmland and destroy their crop and then when they complain you kill them, that will never be acceptable. I will not fold my hands to watch this happen.
“I have told the security men to ensure they arrest of all those who have arms. You are aware that through my amnesty Programme, I was able to disarm the criminal elements in my society because I believe in the rule of law and due process.
“Without the rule of law, there is no way we can govern. A stronger person will come and take over the affairs of the state from where ever you are. And so, we must abide by the rule of law. The impunity is what we should stand up and fight outside from corruption.
“Another thing is impunity, it is worse than corruption. So, why we are fighting corruption, we just also fight impunity. This is not right. Those armed herdsmen, are they above the law? So, the security men must track and arrest them and prosecute them according to the law.
“I have told my people that as farmers, they have no business carrying arms. And so, I will protect them as long as I am governor is my state.”
The governor denied claims that Benue state Police Command had kicked against the expulsion, saying that his administration and the police were on the same page.
When asked whether the police was against expulsion of people, he said: “People with arms? The commissioner of police should arrest those people with arms. These are not licensed arms. I was with him when we went to Buruku, he never said anything to contradict what I said earlier.
“I don’t know where this fabrication is coming from. As far as I am concerned, I am in touch with my security council in Benue State. We meet regularly and all these problems we discuss them when we meet.
“And I as far as I am concerned, we are on the same page to ensure that those weigh arms should be arrested otherwise, they should leave the state.”