Attack: The Benue State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has described as biased and a double standard the ultimatum issued by Governor Hyacinth Alia to traditional rulers in Kwande Local Government Area of the state to produce alleged killers of traders in the area.
In a statement by its state Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, he said Governor Alia has already passed verdict of guilt on youths from Kwande local government Area without investigation.
The statement reads: “Governor Alia specifically and conclusively passed a verdict of guilt on youths at Nyihemba area of Kwande as being responsible for an attack which allegedly occurred against traders in transit there resulting in the deaths of two of the traders.
“The governor then handed down a seven-day ultimatum to traditional rulers in the domain where the said incident occurred demanding that they produce the youths whom he concluded were responsible for the alleged crime.
“PDP first and foremost condemns the unfortunate deaths of the two traders as it equally condemns the killings of hundreds of defenseless Benue people by armed herders and other terrorists.
“The party maintains that perpetrators of crime, terror and banditry should all be fished out and prosecuted under law, irrespective of their ethnicity, religious or political leaning, without discrimination on the basis of equality as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“PDP, therefore finds as contradictory the aplomb and fury with which Governor Alia has reacted to the alleged killing of the two traders, since it starkly contrasts his trademark deaf, dumb and blind posture over the “repeated killings of innocent Benue men, women and children, even in that same Turan area by herdsmen since coming to office.
“The party recalls that this is the same governor who has kept sealed lips while bandits whom he openly confessed to having had a pact with during the campaigns and who he referred to as his “brothers in the bush”, have embarked on a wanton spree of killings and kidnappings, with one of their victims lately being the governor’s Commissioner for Information and Culture, Matthew Abo.
“Even when the Information Commissioner was kidnapped, which was the most audacious affront to Governor Alia’s authority as the Chief Security Officer of the state, there was no fire and fury from him as he is exhibiting at the alleged death of the two traders.
“PDP wonders what then informs this stark and shocking disparity in importance between the alleged death of the two traders on one hand, and the killing of hundreds of Benue people on the other, at the hands of herdsmen, terrorists and bandits, some of whom the governor has confessed to knowing, yet, has never issued any ultimatum to anyone about.
“The party is also curious to know by what method of investigation was Governor Alia able to conclusively determine within 24 hours the culpability of the youths of Nyihemba in the alleged attack against the traders.
“If Governor Alia all along possessed such a magic wand of investigation, how come he has failed to apply it to fish out killers of innocent Benue men, women and children and bring the same to book with the fury and determination he is applying to the isolated incident at Nyihemba?
“In the same Turan area where the governor is now issuing an ultimatum over the death of two traders, armed herdsmen have been on a relentless killing spree since his coming to office, and there exists in that area camps for persons displaced from such attacks, yet it hasn’t so far qualified for an ultimatum to anyone.
“It is in Turan that Fulani herdsmen have sacked and occupied an entire council ward known as Moon, and though this happened before him, it should rationally be expected that if Governor Alia is serious about addressing insecurity, he shouldn’t start with a crackdown on traditional rulers in Turan for the death of the two traders.
“We put it to Governor Alia that under his reign Benue people have become used to the blanket of silence and blindness which he has cast over killings, kidnappings and other such crimes in the state, as such his fist of fury being brandished at helpless traditional rulers in Kwande reflects bias and a double standard.
“PDP cautions Governor Alia against taking the docility of Benue people for foolishness with this ultimatum to the people of Kwande, as it amounts to rubbing salt into the gaping wounds of herdsmen atrocities in that area and elsewhere in the state.
“If and when the Benue State Governor decides to tackle insecurity in the state seriously, he will do well to get to the root of the problem and not skim the surface with such offensive bias and double standards as this ultimatum to the traditional rulers of Kwande represents.”