By Uche Nnorom
The Benue State government has denied the allegation that it is sponsoring militia groups in the state to attack innocent citizens.
A statement issued by the State Commissioner for Information, Lawrence Onoja, said “security situation in Benue State has taken another dimension with the latest case of clear misrepresentation of the situation by a group which claims to be a coalition of human rights bodies.
“The Benue State Government would not have bothered to respond to the absolute falsehood contained in the report but we are constrained to set the records straight considering the negative impact such falsehood would have on unsuspecting members of the public.
“The Coalition on Conflict Resolution and Human Rights in Nigeria in a purported review of incidents between farmers/herders crisis in Nigeria interacted with some online newspapers and social media influencers on Monday 9th April 2018. This was clearly a failed mission to discredit Benue State government.
“The isolation of Benue State from among others States surveyed the coalition including Kogi, Plateau, Adamawa and Taraba States has automatically make the report unbiased and highly subjective to achieve a predetermined aim.
The Coalition on Conflict Resolution and Human Rights in Nigeria was completely wrong to have claimed that Benue State Government is playing politics with the lives of the people.
“That claim is unjustified as the State Government enacted the Benue State Prohibition of Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law as part of its efforts to prevent herdsmen and farmers clashes which have claimed the lives of many Benue indigenes.
“The State Government rejects the claim of using armed militias and warlords especially as there is no evidence to support this allegation. Benue State is not home to any armed militia or warlords but there are armed Fulani herdsmen openly grazing their cattle with AK47 riffles. There is no state that does not have some level of criminals engaging in illegal activities. The State Government has been supporting the Police and other security agencies to fight these criminals but certainly not warlords or militia.
“The Benue State government welcomes and appreciates every genuine effort to restore peace to the state but the administration of Governor Samuel Ortom would not accept any misguided plot to aggravate the security situation in the state. This coalition has clearly taken a political position by saying that some politicians are benefiting politically and financially from this crisis.
“The coalition should have stated exactly how this is being done and also name the politicians instead of making misleading and diversionary statements. The State Government has been under serious financial burden in taking care of the needs of the over 170,000 people in eight Internally Displaced Persons Camps, IDPs across the State.
“This informs why Governor Samuel Ortom had appealed to the Federal Government to come to the aide of the State in providing for the IDPs. The State Government appreciates the efforts of the Federal Government and security agencies in the State so far but we call for more action to make the communities of the IDPs safe for their return home”, the statement said.