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Published On: Fri, Feb 9th, 2018

Turning Benue’s mass grave into a ‘holy site’

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Benue state has become a Mecca of sort of recent. Governor Samuel Ortom has been able to attract sympathy to the state owing to the recent mass burial of 73 persons allegedly killed by marauding herdsmen.
Ortom, though a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to show that the government at the Centre was not willing to come to his aid to stop the killings in his state.
At every opportunity, the governor has faulted the Nigeria Police of not showing enough resolve to arrest the perpetrators of the crime and, with this, he has not ceased to attract sympathy both local and international.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to pay the state a condolence visit, northern governors, led by the Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum and the governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, did.
Curiously, opposition governors who were in Benue to condole with Ortom and the people of the state have added color by offering to cry at the graveside of the victims. Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike, after wailing openly at the gravesite also gave a whopping sum of N200 million to the victims of the massacre who are now displaced and living at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Only yesterday, the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum and Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose, was also at the graveside to sympathize with Ortom.
There are likelihood that others may follow as the graveyard of the unfortunate victims of the massacre is gradually becoming a tourist attraction.
There are however political implications when outsiders start to cry more than the bereaved. Apart from sympathizing with the people of Benue, such reverberate with political undertones when the sympathizers make a public show of their goodwil.
The APC reconciliation panel chaired by Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu obviously has a lot on its hands to keep someone like Ortom in the party ahead of 2019 general elections. This is because the killings and mass burial in Benue has undeniably set the state on the path of confrontation with the government and the ruling party.

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