By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Bothered by the spate of armed herdsmen attacks on Benue communities, leaders and stakeholders of the state have resolved to recruit ex-servicemen and able-bodied young men to form the new Benue Community Volunteer Guards.
This was part of the resolution reached Thursday in Makurdi at the end of the enlarged stakeholders/security meeting of leaders of the state drawn from across socio-political and religious groups in the state.
Reading the resolutions of the meeting, Governor Samuel Ortom hinted that the meeting resolved to establish the Guards to complement the efforts of the overstretched conventional security agencies.
He explained that that members of the Guards who should be recruited from the community to local government levels would be allowed to carry legally recognized weapons to defend themselves against external aggression in the course of carrying out the duty of protecting their various communities.
Part of the resolution read “Benue State Stakeholders Meeting appreciates Security Agencies for their efforts in ensuring relative peace in parts of the State. The meeting considers the fact that in the face of banditry, kidnapping, herdsmen attacks and other crimes the Security Agencies have done well.
“The meeting, however, resolved that the renewed attacks on the people by armed herdsmen have overstretched Security Agencies in the State.
“Therefore, the Benue State Government should fully enforce the “Law to Provide for the Establishment of Community Volunteer Guards (Vigilante) and for the Purposes Connected Therewith” which was enacted in the year 2000.
“The State Government has been mandated to support the Vigilante with logistics as provided in the Law. Recruitment of the Vigilante should be carried out in the 23 Local Government Areas of Benue State.
“Those to be recruited will be ex-service men and others who are not below 18 years and not above 50 years. They will be people who are employed or have steady means of livelihood. So as far as you are a farmer you are qualified for recruitment. They should not be people of questionable character and must have lived in his community for up to six months.
“The meeting reinforced the commitment of Benue people to the enforcement of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.
“The meeting also emphasized the need for all stakeholders to join hands in tackling insecurity in Benue State devoid of political, religious and ethnic sentiments.”
Earlier the meeting unanimously passed a vote of confidence on Governor Ortom for his efforts in providing security in the State. The motion for the vote of confidence was moved by the tribal leaders and leaders of the three main Socio-Cultural Organizations in the State made up of the Mzough-U-Tiv, Ochetoha, K’Idoma, and Omi ‘Nyi Igede.
In attendance at the meeting were traditional rulers, federal and state lawmakers, members of the State Executive Council, Senator George Akume who was represented, Local Government Council Chairmen, and top government functionaries and political appointees in the state.