The All Progressive Congress, APC, in Benue state has accused the state government of sponsoring attacks in some part of the state using the Livestock Guard.
But the PDP has said the APC was making the accusation out of fear of failing the forthcoming elections
The APC House of Representatives Candidate for Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency, Mr Conrad Terhide Utaan made the allegation on Thursday while briefing newsmen in reaction to the attacks in the community of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.
He said he had called the press to draw attention to a very dangerous trend emerging in the state where, according to him, Gov. Samuel Ortom’s ineptitude to deliver on good governance, had made him desperate for survival.
He said that Gov Ortom had, recently, abandoned every single responsibility of governance and had gone into politics, making inflammatory statements that were inimical to the development of the state.
Utaan said rumours about Fulani herdsmen being attacked on the fringes of the Benue boundaries were deliberate provocations as the issues in the state were not necessarily between Fulani herdsmen and the farmers.
He noted that the Benue people have lived peacefully with Fulani before now acknowledging that the competition for arable land for farming and land for grazing had thrown up a lot of challenges between the two.
“As it is now, the Benue government has decided to turn this into a political tool to seek re-election. I have it on good authority that in the last few weeks, state sponsored armed militia are being instigated to hit at cattle settlements in circumstances that can be best described as cattle rustling to the extent that it can create violence and anarchy as we prepare for this 2019 elections.
“The intention, we are sure is that the governor wants people to believe that Benue is still under threat of Fulani occupation.”
He noted that since the start of Operation Whirl Stroke in Benue, the crisis in the state had abated except some deliberate provocation by some armed militia in the guise of livestock guards.
He recalled that at INEC meeting to discuss voting points for IDPs in the state, it was agreed that all IDPs should return back to their homes for voting but “this did not go down well with the governor since he preferred elsewhere.”
“There was also an attempt for some people to vote at Torkula axis to allow for rigging of the election. Guma LGA chairman, Anthony Shawon suggested that Uvir ward should vote in Gbajimba but stakeholders opted for Iye. After losing the arrangement, the PDP deliberately decided to create anarchy in that area,” he said.
Utaan insisted that the APC in the state is convinced that those who carried out the attack on Iye, early hours of Thursday, were members of Livestock guards sponsored by the governor.
“It was a state sponsored violence on the people and not perpetrated by Fulani. We therefore urge the Federal Government to urgently disband and disarm the livestock or else, elections in Benue will be compromised.”
He further alleged that Gov. Ortom and PDP planned to cause violence in many areas of the state especially where they felt they do not have a grip saying adequate security should be provided in Benue for a violence free election.
Responding to allegations that he was sponsoring militia to kill his people, Gov. Samuel Ortom stated that the APC was heaping baseless accusations on him out of fear of defeat at the forthcoming polls.
Ortom who responded through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase said “the APC is clearly in a panic mood regarding the realities that is staring them in the face.
He said such statements were not befitting of a politician seeking to represent a people most of whom have lost their lives to herdsmen attacks and that Mr. Utaan lacked the justification to accuse the governor whose administration has signed the open grazing law to protect people of the state.
He said Mr. Utaan’s attack on governor Ortom was also to please the federal government to play down his purported investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.
Mr. Terver Akase was of the opinion that if anyone was to be accused of herdsmen killings, it should be the APC that has failed woefully to protect the people of Benue against herders attacks and not the governor.
He also stated that if anyone was to be blamed for the attacks on Benue people, it would be the APC and their leader in the state, Senator George Akume.
The governor described Mr. Utaan’s comments as unpatriotic, insensitive and capable of disrupting the general elections.
On the call to disband the livestock guards, Mr. Akase, said the federal government did not have the right to dismantle the state livestock guards which was legitimately constituted, saying those calling for the proscription know nothing about the law and separation of powers.
He therefore called on security agencies to provide everyone in the state with adequate security now, during and after the elections.