By Peter Duru
Makurdi- Irked by last weekend’s mass murder in Plateau state that claimed over 100 lives, Governor Samuel Ortom has again called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, who claimed responsibility for the massacre.
The Governor’s call was sequel to the claim by the leadership of MACBAN that the brutal attack on the affected villages was a reprisal for the killing of 300 cows belonging to its members.
Governor Ortom who spoke while inaugurating the 19 chairmen and members of the state-owned Boards and Commissions in Makurdi, lamented the level of killings and destruction of property in Benue, Plateau and other North Central states by armed militant herdsmen.
According, to him, “those who have claimed responsibility for the killings should be arrested. Just like we in Benue have been calling for their arrest for their complicity in the Benue killings. What is the government waiting for? It is heartrending that in a country of close to 200 million people this kind of act takes place as if we are still living in the past.
“As a state government, we appreciate the federal government for sending the Operation Whirl Stroke to end the killings in Benue state. We will give the operation all the needed support to ensure it succeeds.
“But we have said that those who are law-abiding are free to live in Benue state and do their legitimate businesses. They can apply for land and set up their ranches in line with the provisions of the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishments Law.
“Our adoption of ranching is to the extent of what is in our law and I have repeatedly said that we do not have one single 5,000 hectares of land for the establishment of a single massive ranch but we can avail individuals land to set up personal ranches as provided by our law which remains the panacea for the crisis.”
While commiserating with Governor Simon Lalong and the entire people of Plateau State over the attack, Governor Ortom described the killing of children, women and other vulnerable people as barbaric, inhuman and unfortunate.
Governor Ortom assured his counterpart, Governor Lalong that “Benue will continue to stand with the people of Plateau in prayers until the orgy of violence over the state and other parts of the Middle Belt is brought to an end.”