GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State narrowly escaped death last week when armed hoodlums suspected to be Fulani cattle herdsmen shot at him while he was on his farm at Adeke along the Makurdi-Naka road.
More than any other state in Nigeria. Benue has suffered countless attacks by armed herdsmen, leading to the deaths of hundreds of innocent villagers. Early this week, bandits suspected to be herdsmen, abducted and killed a member of the Benue State Livestock Guard in Ado Local Government Area.
Stressing that the situation has now got out of hand, Governor Ortom lamented that the influx of armed herdsmen into the state has become a source of concern and worry and needs to be checked urgently. He added that he had to call on the Nigerian military to come to his aid after he was attacked by the herdsmen.
Governor Ortom said: “Just last week I was on my farm that is situated in the outskirts of Makurdi town when armed herdsmen came there and shot at me. They also shot at the vehicle of our Livestock Guards who came there and shattered it and we had to call the joint military security team Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), who came and saved the situation.”
“We are doing everything possible to arrest the situation as these people are deliberately coming into the state. I have always maintained that armed herdsmen, Islamic State of West Africa, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram are the same thing and they are out to prosecute the same agenda.
Miyetti Allah leadership should also be arrested because majority of all the kidnappings you see around are carried out by armed herdsmen. They are creating a lot of insecurity and hardship for the people, so the federal government must ensure they are arrested and prosecuted just like we are arresting those involved in open grazing in Benue.”
He added that the situation has become a big challenge because the farmers in Benue State are not allowed to have cutlasses but herdsmen are allowed to carry AK47 assault rifles. According to the governor, OPWS, has done well by returning relative peace but they want them to do more.
“Our Livestock Guard do not have guns to confront the armed herdsmen which is a big challenge but we have been working with the Civil Defence and the trained Agro Rangers who are armed and we will collaborate with them to also help us ensure that herdsmen occupying our communities are moved out to allow the displaced persons return home to a secured environment. Many have asked why we still leave people in the internally displaced persons camps but how do I send people home to go and die in this situation?” Governor Ortom added.