By Peter Duru
MAKURDI—Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, yesterday, disclosed that his country home has been sacked by Fulani mercenaries, who he said had killed over 50 of his kinsmen with over 200 hectares of his rice farm razed. He lamented that the incessant killings and destruction of lives and property in the Benue had created a 25 year retrogression of development in the state.
The governor made this known when he received the All Progressives Congress, APC, Governors’ Forum, led by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, who paid him condolence visit over the invasion of Agatu and other parts of Benue by the herdsmen.
According to him, “the mercenaries invaded my village, killed over 50 persons and destroyed over 200 hectares of my rice farm. As I am sitting here, I have no ancestral home. They killed children, old men and women in my community.
“The mercenaries come to Benue not just to graze but to steal, kill and destroy the livelihood of the agrarian people, after which they take possession of the land knowing full well that all we have here are our farms.
“These attacks have brought a major setback to the people, especially with our declining revenue from the federal allocation, which was about N7 billion before I assumed office. But this month stood at N1.3 billion, while our monthly wage bill stands at close to N4 billion.”
The governor lamented that even after President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that soldiers and mobile policemen should be deployed to the state, there had not been any reports of the arrest of people behind the crime.
Ortom, who made case for setting up ranches in the country, said Benue people had lived peacefully with Fulani herdsmen until four years ago when the crisis started, stressing that the state had not known peace since then.