Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom at the weekend gave a gloomy picture of the security situation in his state, saying about 18 of the 23 local government areas of the state are under the siege of attacks by Boko Haram and herdsmen. Ortom, however, said President Muhammadu Buhari was genuinely addressing the humanitarian crisis currently plaguing the state as a result of the many attacks in different communities around the state.
The governor also said the arrested livestock guard, Tershaku, in connection with Boko Haram attacks, should be allowed to contend with the full course of the law, after all, he has an opportunity to prove his innocence if he truly was. He was addressing journalists in the state upon his return from China, where he had gone to observe his leave.
But on the conduct and utterances of the Miyetti Allah, an umbrella body for cattle rearers, he said the state had resolved to commence criminal proceeding against the group and that the process had begun already.
Making excuses for the security agencies, Ortom said, “They too have their deficiencies in terms of capacity, numbers, equipment, funding, and this is why I’ll continue to call on my people to continue to support them, because the insurgency that is going on, as at today, out of the 23 local governments, you hardly count five local governments that are not under siege.
“So, you can see the enormous challenge. There are several ways individuals, groups, communities can come in to support. We have the Vigilante Group, we have Livestock Guards, but these are not armed people, so, it becomes very difficult and when it comes to funding, you discover that the security personnel in the state are grossly underfunded and ill-equipped.
“We need to support them. Where individuals or groups or corporate organisations have that kind of support, you can pass through government, you can pass through anybody or to them directly by way of mobility, funding or whatever that can be available to support the security agents to work.”
Apparently impressed with Buhari’s intervention in the humanitarian crisis in the state, Ortom said, “We’ve identified all those flash points that these invaders come and attack our people and we’ve adequately made presentations to the federal government. As I speak, there’s already a reinforcement going on by all security agencies to ensure that we’re able to surmount this challenge, especially of attacking our people, because Mr. President, in my last discussion with him, was deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis that we’re facing today in Benue State.
“A committee was set up to assess the damage and to see how these IDPs can be rehabilitated to go back to their various communities. But one thing that was identified was that areas that were attacked were not yet safe and while the committee was going round, despite the fact that they had adequate security personnel with them, they were also attacked in several places and, thank God, the security personnel were able to repel all the attacks that came upon them and no one was hurt till they finished their assignment and went back.
“Mr. President had indicated that he wants a rehabilitation of these homes, because even when they go back, how are they going to stay in these places? So, we raised the issue of security in these areas and he did assure us and I’ve seen the sign. As at today, some of the personnel, the top senior people, are already in the state and by tomorrow (weekend), the Chief of Army Staff is visiting himself, just to try to also address this matter. All the security apparatuses are augmenting their personnel to help curtail these attacks and I believe that within the shortest time possible, it’ll be done.”