…Stakeholders warn against attack on Agatu
…It’s time to make new friends —Unongo

By Peter Duru

MAKURDI – DISTURBED by the recurring attacks on Benue communities and the attendant large death tolls, leaders of the state have mandated the state government to cut socio-political alignment with the North, if the killings continued.

Some youths protesting the killings

Pained that it took northern governors three weeks to visit the state after the killing of 73 people by herdsmen and even up till now President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to visit the state, the leaders said it was time to revive the old Middle-Belt of late Joseph Tarka or seek alignment with the South.

Various Benue stakeholders, including serving and former elected leaders, elder statesmen and leaders of ethnic nationalities in the state echoed these views at an expanded stakeholders’ meeting held  at Government House, Makurdi.

Unanimously, the stakeholders called for the restructuring of Nigeria to address the numerous challenges facing the country.

Defend yourselves, Unongo charges Benue people

Speaking at the meeting, former Minister of Steel, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, urged Benue families to defend themselves and not allow herdsmen slaughter them like chicken.

His words: “I am urging you because I know that under the UN chatter, if your government fails to protect you, you can protect yourself; it is no crime. Our people should, therefore organise, themselves around the traditional rulership to defend yourselves.

“And I also state categorical on our alliance with the North, that if in time of need your own friend is not going to help you, you are under bounds to make new friendship that will be mutually beneficial.”

The elder statesman insisted that President Buhari should come to the state to condole with the people, noting: “It was for this reason that I refused to be part of the delegation to the President.”

We’ve given Ortom ultimatum to pull out of NGF, monarchs council — Igede

On the part of the ethnic leaders, Chief Ode Enyi, President-General of Omi ‘Yi Igede, said: “We have given the state government ultimatum to pull out of the Northern Governors’ Forum and the Northern Traditional Rulers Council if the killings in Benue persisted and after issuing that ultimatum the killings are continuing. So, the wishes of the people must be obeyed.”

Let’s revive Middle-Belt — Dyegh

On his part, member of the House of Representatives for Gboko Federal constituency, Mr. John Dyegh, urged the people to revive the Middle Belt Forum, the platform through which the likes of legendary late Joseph Tarka propagated the interest of the people of the state and middle belt.

Northern govs came to mock us —CAN

In his speech, state Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigerian, CAN, Rev. Akpen Leva, expressed the disappointment of the church over the visit of the Northern Governors’ Forum to the state three weeks after the killings.

He said: “The church is disappointed in that visit because it was more of a mockery. We will continue to demand justice over the unprovoked murder of our children, pregnant women and the elderly.”

Agada raises the alarm over herdsmen influx into Agatu

Former Minister of State for Education, Prof. Jerry Agada, raised the alarm of a large influx of suspected herdsmen into Agatu, disclosing that the Ardo of the area has told the people that they would come into the area irrespective of the provisions of the grazing law. He cautioned against any attack on the area.

It’s time to have state police — Hagher

One-time Ambassador to Canada and Mexico, Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher, said the people of the Benue Valley were at war and the Federal Government that was supposed to protect them had failed to do so, adding that the development called for urgent restructuring of Nigeria to pave way for the creation of state police.

80,000 people are now displaced —Gov Ortom

Earlier in his opening speech, Governor Samuel Ortom said: “Because of the crisis, we are now faced with over 80,000 internally displaced persons, IDPs, in camps located at Daudu, Gbajimba, Utsav, Anyiin and Ugba. Let us continue to be firm. Let us continue to be law-abiding and not take the law into our hands or embark on reprisals. What we see happening now is deliberate. They want us to be angry and do their desire but we are not going to do their bidding.

“No matter the intimidation, blackmail and name-calling there is no going back on the Benue grazing law because it is for the good of all, herdsmen and farmers alike.”

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