Armed Fulani herdsmen have stormed some communities in Ado Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue state with over 4,000 herds of cattle.
According to INDEPENDENT, The incident has left members of the affected communities in perpetual fear, a situation which has compelled some peasant farmers in the area to flee their homes.
Governor Samuel Ortom has advised the people of Agila community of Benue state not to panic over its invasion by people of Ngbor community of Ebonyi state, even as he has assured them that government was on top of the situation.
The Governor disclosed this at the heels of a statement by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), alleging that the Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, George Akume was behind the influx of herdsmen into the state.
Other LGAs allegedly taken over by the herdsmen in the state include Guma, Kwande, Agatu and Logo LGAs.
In a telephone interview with newsmen in Makurdi on Wednesday, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor also alleged that some persons were behind the influx of herdsmen and their cattle into the state, adding that it was “politically motivated.”
The Spokesman to the Governor noted that the move was aimed at destabilizing the state government.
HE SAID: “We suspect that the influx of armed herdsmen with their cattle into Benue state is a move by some persons who are enemies of peace of the state.
“We may not be accusing a particular person but for political reasons, some persons have given open invitation to herdsmen to come to Benue and it is rather unfortunate.
“But herdsmen themselves should remember that there is a law in the state which prohibits open grazing of livestock and any of them who violate this law, which is very clear, such a person irrespective of tribe, would be sanctioned according to the law.
“Nobody is above the law, the law is not a respecter of persons and whoever wants to do livestock business in Benue should remember that there is a law in place, which regulates the practice of animal husbandry. We want to tell the herdsmen who are coming with their large cattle that Benue has a law and is very clear.
“So, whoever is responsible for the influx of herdsmen is clearly not for the people of Benue state because for the past one year, the government and people of Benue have put heads together with support of security agents to ensure that there is peace in all parts of the state and people are enjoying the peace.
“Even those who are in the camps, a lot of them have gone home and then suddenly, someone made a public statement, inviting herdsmen, telling them that Benue is free land for them to do open grazing.
“It’s quite unfortunate, but we wish to inform those people that they would face sanctions if they violate the law of the land”, he stated.
Some locals who confided in INDEPENDENT on Wednesday observed that the presence of the large herds of cattle is frightening, adding that some people have already started relocating to safer grounds.
A source said, “With the movement of large herds of cattle in our community, we are afraid because it portends danger.
“We recall the incident of the past years especially how hundreds of people were murdered and many others have taken refuge in camps and are yet to return home uptil now.”
“The Security operatives should be alive to their responsibilities. Something should be done soon.”, he cried out.
The CPS to Governor Ortom who also commented on the invasion of Agila community by the Ngbor community of Ebonyi state, alleged that certain persons have plotted to truncate the efforts government had put in place to ensure that the people of the state go to bed with their eyes closed.
He however advised the people of the area not to panic, assuring that government was on top of the situation as the governor was in constant contact with Security Chiefs to ensure they are protected.
Akase said, “Security is a top priority for Governor Ortom and whenever his people are attacked or affected in anyway, he is there. They shouldn’t panic, it may last for a few moment but the conventional security agencies are working to restore peace.”
“As I speak with you the Adviser on Security, the Police Commissioner and other security agents have gone there.”
“Remember, Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) are still on ground in Benue and the Security Adviser based on the governor’s directives, is in constant contact with these people to ensure law and order is maintained in the state.”