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BENUE KILLINGS: Senate report indicts Tivs, herdsmen



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A Senate committee report, has indicted Tiv ethnic group and Fulani herdsmen, over recent killings in some parts of Benue State.

The report claimed that 21 recent attacks carried out in Benue State, were executed by Fulani herdsmen and armed Tiv militia groups.

The report which was presented by a joint Senate committee on Police Affairs and National Intelligence, was however rejected by the upper legislative chamber.

Instead, the Senate asked the committee chairman, Senator Abu Ibrahim to get the contributions of the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and submit a new report next week.

Ibrahim, in the rejected report, claimed that there were 21 attacks carried out in different parts of Benue State during the period under review. He said of the 21 attacks, 11 were carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen, while 10 were executed by armed Tiv militia groups.

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He also claimed in the report that some arrest had already been made by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris. He did not disclose the number of arrests made and when the culprits will be charged to court by Police authorities.

Dismissing the report, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said the omission of the contributions of Governor Ortom was unacceptable. He urged his colleagues to step down the report and get Ortom’s report.

Ekweremadu said: “I just have one single observation. I noted that in the statement made by the IG, he copiously mentioned the Governor of Benue in most of the paragraphs, but I did not see where the committee made an effort to speak with the Governor. Because if in the circumstance, they did not interview the Governor and his name has been mentioned in respect to certain statements and actions. It would only be fair to him, to be invited by the committee and hear his own side of the story so that we have a balanced view of what transpired.”

Senator Adamu Aliero, who differed with Ekweremadu, called on his colleagues to adopt the report without delay. He hailed the efforts of the Police and called for more funding.

He said: “For the first time, we are hearing suspects arrested and charged to court. This is a very good beginning unlike other crises where police and other security agencies would not be able to arrest any suspect. But this one, the police have tried by arresting 125 suspects and others charged to court.”

In his lengthy remarks, former governor of Benue, Senator George Akume, attacked the IGP and accused him of taking sides. He also accused him of making statements capable of derailing peace in the state.

Akume dismissed claims that Tiv militia groups were behind the massacre. Instead, he said Fulani herdsmen from other African countries who currently camp in the state, were behind the killings.

Akume said: “This report would have been more rounded if the governor who has been so massively accused by the IGP was also invited to make inputs into it. The committee would have had opportunity to interact with him. I am informed that the mandate of the committee was restricted to the office and person of the IG and the IGP said he moved immediately to Benue state.

“He did not move to Benue state on his own. Following out cries from the Senate, the President directed him to relocate to Benue state for one week. He went to Benue state. He was there for one day. He spent two days in Nasarawa and he left. His comment has always been very jaundiced. They are not based on professional soundness and they do not show any detachment and impartiality.

“As far as this issue is concerned, I want to draw your attention to something. The claims by IGP alleging that there exists armed militia camps in Tuva in Awe local government of Nasarawa state, waiting to unleash on Benue people is false.

“Those claims are untrue. What he is saying is not true. Every security agency has made comments on this. Huge numbers are there and many of them are from outside the country and they are armed with assorted weaponry system. It is unfair to this country for IG to make this comment on what the governor said which is untrue. What he is saying is untrue. What the governor said is true and it is from there that they move and we have seen video clips of them moving to Benue.

“As we speak, people are being killed in Benue, Nasarawa, Zamara and Taraba states. It is not because we talking anything out of the ordinary. We are simply saying that there are armed people who are going round killing our people. For me, it has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with mischief and economic factors. The IG has not been fair to the Nigerian people whom he has swore to an oath to serve.”

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, mandated the committee to meet with Governor Ortom and get his reaction. He also instructed that the report be submitted next Wednesday.
By Ehisuan Odia…



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