Again, bandits kill 43 in Plateau, Benue

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…As Presidency condemns Ortom’s divisive utterances

By Alao Matthew

It was a bloody Wednesday in Plateau and Benue states as gunmen, suspected to be herdsmen killed 43 persons in total.

According to report gathered by Nigerian NewsDirect,   no fewer than 35 persons have been reportedly killed in Yelwa Zangam community, Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State, while gunmen killed no fewer than eight persons at Yelwata Community in the Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.

Report state wethat armed bandits attacked both communities in the early hours of Wednesday.

In, Plateau State, the attackers had reportedly disabled the bridge leading to the community preventing any access to help before launching their assault.

It was also learnt that an entire family was burnt alive in their home.

The attack is coming barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari pledged support for victims of violent clashes in Plateau State.

However in Benue state, the council Chairman of Guma, Caleb Aba, said the attackers invaded the community on Yelwata market day while the people were still in the market and opened fire killing eight people and injuring others.

Aba, who stated that the attack was unprovoked, said his people had no problems with the herdsmen before they carried out the attack.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) was Yelwata market day and the people were still in the market around 6 pm when the herdsmen came and started shooting sporadically. In the end, eight people were killed, two injured and one person who was abducted is yet to be released till now,” he stated.

The council boss added that the injured persons have been taken to a private hospital for treatment since the doctors in government hospitals are still on strike.

A local who described the attack as shocking said the attackers could have killed more persons but for the quick intervention of troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), who stormed the area to repel the attack.

The local who identified himself as Terdoo, said the troops combed the area in search of the invaders.

Following the killing in Benue state, the State Governor, Samuel Ortom had slammed the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as the worst when it comes to handling security matters.

The Governor was reacting to the president’s open grazing policy.

“Mr President is pushing me to think that what they say about him, that he has a hidden agenda in this country is true,” Ortom said, adding: “because it is very clear that he wants to fulanise but he is not the first Fulani President.

“Shagari was a Fulani President, Yar’ Adua was a Fulani President and they were the best in the history. But President Buhari is the worst President when it comes to issues of security and keeping his promises.

“Go back to 2015, what did he say, human rights issues, he talked about press freedom, about the economy, corruption, security, tell me one that Mr President has achieved.

“He has achieved some level of development in other sectors but these prominent things that are concerns to Nigerians and we are all worried about. tell me when Mr President has come out to address them. Is it corruption, we are worse in the history of this country.”

While the presidency believes that open grazing could be a solution to the lingering farmers/herders clashes, Ortom believes that it will only worsen insecurity.

He said it was disappointing that despite the fact that most states have agreed that ranching is a better way to go in an attempt to resolve the crisis, the President has maintained his stance on open grazing.

Responding on Wednesday, the Presidency again condemned the promotion of ethno-religious politics and divisive utterances by the Benue State Governor.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehuv in a statement on Wednesday said, “The statement read in part: “Governor Samuel Ortom has few political principles. We can see this from the fact that he has changed political party five times during his undistinguished career.

“Every time he feels the wind may be blowing in a certain direction, he follows it.

“Unfortunately, for the good citizens of Benue State, the most dangerous direction he blows in today is that of sectarianism and ethnicity.

“In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, Ortom takes the cheapest and lowest route possible by playing on ethnic themes – and in doing so knowingly causes deaths of innocent Nigerians by inciting farmers against herders, and Christians against Muslims.

“Specifically, Ortom stirs up hatred by targeting one single ethnic group in Nigeria – using language reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide.

“As was the case in Rwanda where the then Hutu leaders of the country incited their countrymen against each other, claiming there was a ‘secret Tutsi agenda’ over the Hutu.

“Ortom claims there is a ‘secret Fulanization agenda’ over other ethnic groups in his state and in Nigeria.

“This is a copy of the language of Hutu Power – which falsely, and intentionally, accused the Rwandan Tutsi of plans to dominate the country.

“This wicked talk is aimed at giving cover to his so-called ‘policy’ on the Ranches Establishment Law – which in reality is purely an act of denial of the law – intended to withhold rights and freedoms from one ethnic group alone, whilst inciting race hatred against them, amongst all others.”

According to the presidential aide, these are not the actions of a man who should be trusted with running public services or holding public office.

He said, for the governor of a major state in Nigeria to be politically driven by ethnic hatred is a stain on the country.

“The good and fair-minded people of Benue State deserve more than this, and we look forward to the next elections when they have an opportunity to restore its greatness,’’ he added.