…Asks for share of N10bn promised by FG
By Chris Ochayi
The Benue State Government has announced the suspension of plans to return the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, to their original habitations, citing sudden heightening state of insecurity occasioned the renewed influx of armed herdsmen and resurgence of armed attacks on innocent people in the state.
Meanwhile, the state has called on the Federal Government to urgently release its share of the N10 billion it promised for states that were affected by herdsmen attacks resulting to killings and IDPs. Benue State Government had a share in the money and was yet to receive any amount since over a year the government made the promise.
Speaking with newsmen Friday in Abuja on the situation in the State, the Executive Secretary of Benue State Emergency Management Agency, Benue SEMA, Dr. Emmanuel Shior lamented that the new wave of insecurity has retarded the progress made in the recent past in the state.
Recall the Benue State has since January 1, 2018 recorded protracted security situation, which resulted in killing of several innocent people and wanton destruction of properties by armed Fulani herdsmen.
Also, no less than 13 out of the 23 Local Government Areas in the state have been ravaged while a number of communities have been abandoned, resulting in not less than 483,692 citizens or 83,608 households that were displaced and have lived in IDPs camps and host communities across the state.
According to Dr. Shior “The problem has been there for over two years now. At a time, the killings seem to have subsided. It was on the wake of this that Benue State Governor; Dr. Samuel Ortom considered the possibility of putting in a place a plan to return the IDPs to their inhabitations.
“He directed me to do that. So, why the state government was waiting for this plan to share with other partners on to return the IDPs to their rural communities, as you know, IDPs cannot be kept in camps forever that were why the state government was preparing to return them.
“It was in the hale of the effort by the government to ensure that the IDPs are returned safely to their communities that there was resumed attacks and killing by the Fulani herdsmen. And we also witnessed the influx of the herdsmen; permit me to name them as we have seen them, Fulani herdsmen coming in with their cattle.
“They entered the most communities and the attention of the Governor was drawn to this development. As the Chief Security officer of the state, every information, everything that is happening in the state he is aware of. And so, he quickly also drew the attention of our security agencies to what was going on in the state.
“It was also on the heels of this that he also convened a stakeholders meeting. He directed me to invite all the humanitarian actors working in the state to support the Benue State government to solve this problem.
“So, on Monday, he met with us, he met with Benue SEMA, he met with Civil Society Groups in the state, he met with the media organisations and other relevant stakeholders who are working together with us to solve this problem.
“And he shared the plan of government, the willingness of the Benue state Government to return the IDPs, but the challenge that is posed before that plan which is that of insecurity. And he drew the attention of the stakeholders to the renewed killings in Benue State.
“And so, because of that, he also announced the suspension of this plan. He informed the stakeholders that as government that is responsible responsive, it will be inhuman to conceive the idea of closing the camps and ask the IDPs to return to their homes.
“You also recall that sometime last year, the Federal Government through the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo visited Benue State Government and he has made a promise of N10 billion for states that were affected by Fulani herdsmen attacks resulting to killings and IDPs. Benue State Government had a share in the money.
“We have being expecting that part of that money be given to Benue State government to help in the return of IDPs. Part of that money was meant for the reconstruction of homes, schools, markets and all that that were destroyed. Up till this point that I speak with you, that money has not come.
“That has also posed a big challenge, because as you know, such a heavy burden is not supposed to be shouldered by the state government alone.
“Federal government has to take responsibility to be in the lead, especially as Benue state government has also demonstrated the capacity to look after the citizens of the state. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of Benue state government alone. I want to use this opportunity to share with you that the federal government has not done enough.