Prominent indigenes of Benue State have condemned the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, over his statement on Thursday when he described the crisis between Fulani herdsmen and Benue farmers as a ‘communal clash’.
One time Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, former minister of State for Education, Professor Jerry Agada, President General, Mdzough U Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege and a former Senate President Ameh Ebute, expressed shock at the IG’s statement.
Tsav described the statement as ‘unprofessional’ and wondered whether the police boss could say the same thing if it happened to his people.
“I’m sad with the comment made by IGP, he is unfair to my people, if such happens to his people, would he have said such a thing? It is unprofessional of him. Why should he say it was a communal crisis, was there any report that a Fulani died?
“I wonder how he called this communal crisis when Tiv people including pregnant women and children were killed with no fulani casualty.
Agada said, “I think the IGP was uninformed, if not, such statement ought not to come from him, it is unfortunate that the police boss was not abreast with issues on ground, perhaps, he is overwhelmed with the security problem in the country”.
Ujege on his part described the statement as “not only misleading but also makes mockery of the souls of children, pregnant women, old men and youths of the state murdered in cold blood by armed Fulani herdsmen in the last few days.”
Ebute, Prof. David Iornem, and Gen. Lawrence Onoja (rtd.), urged Ortom to lead a high-power delegation of elders and traditional rulers to President Buhari to register their grievances.
Meanwhile, Ortom on Saturday said that he reconciled with former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, in his quest to find solution to the problem of herdsmen attacks on Benue people.
He also told journalists on Saturday that he had withdrawn from all political activities pending when the attacks on Benue by Fulani herdsmen were over.
The governor said for the first time after his election in 2015, he had to pick his phone and put calls across to his predecessor, Gabriel Suswam, and a former senate president David Mark to seek their inputs on how to solve the problem of herdsmen invasion of Benue communities.
He said, ‘’I saw this as a problem for all Benue sons and daughters that is beyond party line which is why l decided to put every sentiment aside, reconciled with relevant stakeholders and sit with them to brainstorm with a view to find lasting solution to the crisis.”
He disclosed that a mass burial would be organised for the victims of the herdsmen attack while three days mourning shall be observed preparatory to the burial.
According to him, “Dead victims of about 49 dead bodies, 39 from Guma and 10 from Logo LGAs have been deposited at various mortuaries”.
He added that he had ordered that bodies that were found dead and decomposing, should be buried.
In a related development, a security expert has asked the Federal Government to speedily address the killings by Fulani herdsmen across the country, noting that they may be Boko Haram terrorists in disguise.
Retired State Director, Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, said the level of sophistication and coordination by the herdsmen indicated that they may be insurgents trying to expand their deadly campaign beyond the North-East.
He said the government should stop living in denial and confront the challenge of the herdsmen attacks squarely before it got out of hand.
Ejiofor said, “We are living in denial instead of confronting the problem. The killings is beyond herdsmen and farmers. These people are part of Boko Haram who are trying to extend their campaign beyond the North-East and the government should interrogate this.
“If you look at the form of attacks they have cultivated, they are coordinated and sophisticated and that shows that they are very well organised and it gives a cause for concern. The government should look beyond the herdsmen/farmers clashes.”
The security expert disagreed with the Inspector-General of Police designation of the Benue killings as a communal clash, noting that it was a serious issue that should warrant a visit to the scene by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He frowned on the President’s failure to personally address the killings in Benue and other states by Fulani herdsmen, stressing that this was sending a wrong signal to the nation.
“The general body language is that he is not saying anything because the attackers are Fulani, which may not be true, but if he remains silent, it gives cause for worry; If he speaks on it or visit the place, it would reassure the people,” Ejiofor added.