January 24, (THEWILL) – Benue state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused Governor Samuel Ortom of triggering rustling of cows, during which herdsmen come to kill vulnerable residents in the state in reprisal.
At a news conference addressed by State chairman of the party on Tuesday, in Makurdi, titled: “An appeal for restraint on both sides and other related matters”, the party alleged that the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards under the guise of enforcing the open grazing prohibition law on one hand and the Fulani militia’s counter attacks against innocent people who have no links with either rustling.
“Available information indicate that on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, over 600 herds of cattle were rustled in Sengev ward of Gwer-West local government area and kept at the local guest house at Naka, the objective was to trigger reprisal attacks against Gwer-West people by the herders.”
The party, therefore, called on the leadership of the Fulani people in Nigeria to immediately direct its militias to lay down arms and allow peace reign, while security agencies demonstrate capacity in intelligence gathering so as to forestall any further attacks against Ihyarev people in cold blood.
“It must be emphasised that the Implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law, which targets cows instead of the Fulanis who shepherd the cows leaves much to be desired. It is, therefore, our contention that Governor Ortom should immediately review this mode of enforcing the law and go after the perceived violators of the law.”
The conference which was supported by twenty three other members of the party, noted that the Ihyarev nation has suffered untold hardship as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) under Governor Ortom’s watch as a result of they described as “episodic circle of cow rustling.
“The Fulani militia attacks especially during election seasons, a situation that has led us with the conclusion that the attacks are predetermined to achieve a particular political objective, with the 2023 general elections around the corner, Community Volunteer Guards have systematically embarked on cow rustling in Gwer West, Makurdi and Guma Local Government Areas, under the instruction of Governor Ortom with the attendant consequences of spontaneous Fulani militia killing of one person in Mbapa ward of Gwer west, eight persons in Makurd on the 19th January 2023 and eight persons in Guma Local Government Area on the 20th January, 2023 all within the lhyarev dominated communities.”
The party expressed it readiness to comply with the decision of the Federal Appeal Court ruling which nullified it governorship primaries in eleven local government councils areas of the state in which Revd Fr Hyacinth Alia was returned as the party’s flag bearer in the state.
“As a law abiding political party, we call on our teeming members and supporters in the affected eleven local government areas to remain calm and prepare for the rerun exercise within fourteen days as ordered by the court.”
According to Mr Agada, the party is fully aware of the antics of certain moles in her membership, who he said have become willing tools and agents of the opposition to destabilise the party.
He conveyed the wishes of the leader of APC in Benue state, senator George Akume and invite all to come out on 26th January to welcome the presidential candidate of APC Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Shettima in the state for a rally.
When contacted, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, said he require some times to study the press conference document so as to react appropriately.