By Egena Sunday Ode
As part of efforts to restore peace and tranquility to the people of Benue State, a group under the aegis of Association of Igede Media Professionals (AIMPs) has called on the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim to, as a matter of urgency, establish a buffer military post between Ukpute and Bonta as a further security guarantee for the vulnerable and defenceless.
While describing killing of the soldiers as despicable crime, the group commiserated with the Nigerian Army and families over the death of eleven soldiers and an officer slaughtered in cold blood by bandits in an unprovoked attack in and around Bonta area of Konshisha Local Government of Benue State.
AIMPs in a statement issued by its President, Egena Sunday Ode, on Sunday commended the Nigeria Army for the discipline and professionalism in the face of grievous provocation exhibited by its personnel in the on-going stabilisation campaign around Bonta.
The group called for a thorough arms mop-up as well as tracking of the funders and procurers of these bandits following the high-scale of banditry, weapons in circulation and frequency of attacks Ukpute and it’s environs as attested to by troops, adding that such extended operation is necessary for the peace and security of ordinary citizens in the area.
Ode who urged all the communities in the area, to embrace peace and to see themselves as collective victims of a non-challant or non-responsive government, further called on the Benue State Goverment to compliment the military efforts in the stabilisation initiative by immediately commencing sensitization campaign with hotlines in the conflict area of the dangers of procuring or harbouring bandits or promoting violence.
“We believe a lesson must have been learnt by the government of Benue State, and indeed, all parties to the Ukpute-Bonta dispute on the dangers of procrastination, indifference and prejudicial behaviour by those in government in the face of grave and recurring danger; dangers of expansionist and annihilationist ambitions by the more powerful neighbours; and contempt or disrespect for members of our armed forces
We do believe there is no alternative to good neighbourliness, peaceful co-existence, mutual recognition, and respect for constituted authority, especially, members of our armed forces that conduct themselves within the limits of the law. In light of this, we urge the Benue State Goverment to do the needful by ensuring an unbiased and dispassionate demarcation of the area. Happily, documents or survey maps from archives confirmed by GPS have since reconfirmed the boundary.
We however, urge the State Goverment to go beyond boundary demarcation by bringing development such as light to the beleaguered communities of Ukpute, Bonta and their environs as they belong to the forgotten parts of the state. Even the road that traverses the communities is unusable. Perhaps, the Governor needs no reminding that he deployed construction equipment to that road only to withdraw them after he won the 2019 election without an inch of work done” he said.