Benue killings: Ortom escapes mob attack as residents protest
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State escaped mob attack on Wednesday as thousands of youths, in Makurdi, the state capital, protested the killings, on Monday, in Guma and Logo local government areas of the state.
The protesters also defied the tear gas thrown at them by security operatives and also nearly mobbed the governor, who had to break off from the security council meeting to calm the frayed nerves.
Security operatives, Nigerian Tribune learnt, had to whisk away the governor into a waiting vehicle when the situation became tense.
Suspected Fulani herdsmen had, for two days running, launched an onslaught on six communities in the two council areas, leading to the death of over 20 people.
The youth, who thronged the major highways within the capital city, prevented access to the Lafia-Makurdi highway, the Otukpo Road, and the Old Bridge Road, while many of them gathered at the Wurukum roundabouts, disrupting vehicular movement for hours.
One of the youths who identified himself as the president, National Association of Ihiarev Youths, Bem Titus Terna, decried the killings by the herders while lamenting that President Muhammadu Buhari had not made any statement on the killings.
He said they were ready to continue with the protest for seven days until the Federal Government demonstrated its concern for the plight of the Benue people.
“The Federal Government is not doing anything to address this situation. In fact, it is conspiring against the state to allow this carnage to continue. The president is adamant over the issue.
“We will continue to stage this protest for seven days. We want the entire world and the international community to come to our aid,” the youth stated.
Governor Ortom, who later spoke to newsmen at the Government House, said he understood the pain of the youth but called for calm while urging the people to go about their lawful business without fear.
The governor, who disclosed that he had already asked for an additional deployment of security operatives in Makurdi and other local government areas of the state, added that it was too early to declare a curfew.
He said his government and the security agencies were on top of the situation and urged everyone to remain calm.
“We have asked for additional deployment of security in Makurdi and placed other local government areas on red alert. No curfew for now as it would mean more hardship for people travelling to their base.
“People should be careful. There should be no protest of any kind for now and if you must protest, you must get permission from the police,” the governor stated.
“I understand the anger of the people. I understand their pain. All I can say to the youth is that they should remain calm.
“In situations like this, we cannot think of reprisal or anger to be a solution to the harm that had been caused. I have reported this to the president and security agencies and they are working on it.
“I have reiterated my call on the Federal Government to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) because the members have openly said they would resist the prohibition of open grazing law which was an initiative of the Benue people. There is no other alternative to ranching.
“But I think the right thing to do is for the Federal Government to arrest the leadership of MAKH or else, they are telling us that we are not part of Nigeria. Their threats have become a reality and they are living in Abuja with the Federal Government.
“If the Federal Government does not arrest them, then they are throwing us into a state of anarchy. We assure the people of the state that we feel their pains and we assure that justice will take its course. No going back on the law,” Ortom stated.