By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU- THE Igbo communities in various parts of Benue State, particularly in Gboko, have raised the alarm that their lives were no longer safe in the state.
They alleged that they have become endangered in the State following spates of targeted kidnappings and murder of Igbo in the State by native gangs, suspected herdsmen and bandits.
According to prominent members of the Igbo community in Gboko led by a businessman, Chief Nnolim Okafor, “there is no week an Igbo person is not kidnapped or murdered in Benue State and we have been subjected to paying millions of naira in ransoms. We can no longer do our businesses freely for fear of being kidnapped or murdered. Since January this year, we have had over 50 Igbos kidnapped and some murdered in cold blood by bandits and suspected herdsmen.”
In a press briefing in Enugu, on Monday, Nnolim said that all efforts to get the security agencies and the Benue state government to address the matter have fallen on deaf ears. “Igbos in Benue State are being systematically decimated and our businesses are gradually being ruined by these kidnappers and bandits”, he lamented.
One of the businessmen, Mr. Ikem Ani also lamented that Igbos in Benue have been subjected to untold hardship and their lives no longer guaranteed.
According to him, “there is virtually no week that an Igbo person is not kidnapped. We have tried to engage the State Police Command to no avail. We are therefore crying out for the world to know the fate of Ndigbo in Benue State.
“We are now putting Ohanaeze Ndigbo on notice that we have become endangered in Benue State because what is happening to Igbos in Benue State is worse than what is happening to Ndigbo in the far north”, he stated.
It will be recalled that in recent times the spate of kidnaps and killings of persons of Igbo extraction in Benue State have risen to dizzying heights, prompting calls by an Igbo Youth group for the re-calibration of the security architecture in Nigeria and especially in Benue State.
In a recent press statement, the group expressed dismay with the way reports concerning security of Ndigbo in Benue State have been handled with levity and non-nonchalance by the security agencies in the State; warning that Igbos in Benue State may be forced into aggressive defence of their lives and property.