Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom has said that only the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) can give the Benue people a sense of belonging and restore their hope in the Nigerian state.
Governor Ortom stated this when he played host to a delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum and Northern Governors Forum led by the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima who paid him a condolence visit at the Government House in Makurdi on Friday.
While lamenting that despite open threats by the leadership of the group to mobilize all its members to resist the anti-open grazing law, which resulted in the attack on some communities of the state and killing of over 70 people, the leaders of MAKH are still walking freely in the country.
Ortom urged the federal government to take proactive action on intelligence reports that were gathered on threat alerts from the state so that the fears of the people regarding possible attacks can be allayed.
He said that although there have been relative calm in the state in the past few days compared to what was experienced in the first weeks of January, there are still pockets of killings in some communities in the state.
The governor said aside from the killings, the state is now saddled with the responsibility of catering for the over 80,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were dislodged from their homes as a result of the herdsmen attacks.
“Apart from the killings, the over 80,000 IDPs we have is a source of worry to the state. There is still fear because of threats being received. We are still living under fear and threats by these people. They have not stopped their threats and we feel that the federal government should come in and ensure that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) is arrested. Until that is done, we will not feel we matter in the scheme of things in the country.
“They (MAKH) have given us a new dimension to the whole crisis by saying the Benue valley belongs to them and they have even given press releases in that regard. These are not seen as mere threats. However, we will continue to call on our people to be law-abiding because we are committed to one Nigeria and peaceful living in the country.”
Ortom who restated the commitment of his administration to the unity of Nigeria said up till now, herdsmen are still living in the state which according to him, is an indication that the anti open grazing law enacted by the state and presently being implemented is not to witch-hunt anyone.
Earlier in his speech, the leader of the delegation, Alhaji Kashim Shettima while commiserating with the government and people of Benue over the attacks prayed that the current security challenges would soon become a thing of the past.
“We resolved that what affects a state affects all states. Our coming is on a sad note. We are here on behalf of the governors of 19 northern states and 24 APC states. We believe that the challenges being faced in Benue will soon become a thing of the past. We reaffirm our solidarity to all people of Benue State. We are one people and we are very much interested in the peace of Benue and we shall do whatever is in our power to ensure that peace.”
Other governors on the delegation are: Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Badaru Abubakar (Zamfara) and Simon Lalong (Plateau) as well as the deputy governor of Osun State, Mrs. Titilayo Laoye-Tomori.