…Ortom, Suswam, Uba, others Visit Community, berate FG
By Ushahemba Nongu
Thirty-six dead bodies have so far been recovered while many others are still missing following the dastardly attack by armed Fulani herdsmen in the early hours of Wednesday, October 19, 2022 in Gbeji community of Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State.
Following the massacre, Governor Samuel Ortom, Senator representing Benue North-East Senatorial district, Dr Gabriel Suswam, Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly and PDP guber candidate, Engr Titus Uba, House of Representatives Member for Ukum/Logo/Katsina-Ala Federal Constituency, Dr Richard Gbande among others, on Friday, October 21 visited the community.
Addressing families of the victims and other survivors during the visit, Governor Ortom who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Anthony Ijohor, SAN, expressed sadness over the unfortunate incident.
He reiterated the stand of the Benue State Government that since the Federal Government has failed to provide security for the people, a license should be approved for the State Government to procure sophisticated weapons for the Community Volunteer Guards to protect the people.
The Governor insisted that the limited conventional security agencies were overstretched and were unable to provide adequate protection for people of the state.
“We are standing on our request for the Federal Government to give us a license for our Volunteer Guards to bear AK-47 and other sophisticated weapons. The security agencies have been overstretched, that being the case, our people have to defend themselves,” he said.
Governor Ortom urged young people to stand firm and protect their lands, stating that self help is the only option left, since the present administration at the centre has shown that it is incapable of providing security for the people.
He sympathized with those who lost loved ones in the attack on Gbeji and encouraged them not to lose hope no matter the circumstances, saying the State Government would provide palliatives to offer succour to the affected persons.
Senator Suswam in his remarks, berated the Federal Government for what he described as its irresponsibility and failure to provide security for citizens.
According to him, “the Federal Government has failed woefully in the protection of lives and property”, lamenting that rising insecurity has exposed the country’s nakedness.
“So far 36 bodies have been recovered from this dastardly attack by herdsmen. This is totally unacceptable by all standards. It is a clear indication that the Federal government has failed in protection of lives and property of the people that they swore to protect.
“What this means in effect is that power has been transferred to non- state actors. They are totally in charge now and come to kill people at will and go freely and no person has ever been arrested,” he lamented.
The Senator went on, “How can such a government say that it is a government? We don’t have a government. Because when you swear to either the bible or the quran that you will protect lives and property of the people and the people have been consistently killed and no decisive action has been taken. Nothing has been done, no person has been arrested, it means that we don’t have a government,” Suswam insisted.
While commending the bravery of security operatives, Senator Suswam maintained that they have been overstretched, noting that among those killed were two policemen who he noted were grossly inadequate and could not cope with the firepower of the terrorists.
In his remarks, Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly and PDP Governorship candidate, Engr Uba expressed sadness over the unprovoked killings which he said have gone on for too long without the Federal Government arresting the situation.
The Speaker insisted that since the Federal Government is not ready to provide security to stop the Benue killings, the authorities should grant license to the State Government to procure firearms for Volunteer Guards to complement conventional agencies in tackling insecurity in the state.
Speaker Uba also advocated the creation of state Police to enable each state of the federation to deal with rising security challenges.
House of Representatives Member for Ukum/Logo/Katsina-Ala Federal Constituency, Dr Gbande, State Assembly Member for Ukum, Thomas Mlanga, Chairman of Ukum Local Government Council, Derick Kaatyoo as well the Acting Ter Ukum, Chief Utambe Nyagba who also spoke during the visit, unanimously said, “What has been done to us as a people is that we have to protect ourselves”.
Governor Ortom’s representative, accompanied by Senator Suswam and others later visited the morgue where corpses of the victims have been deposited as well as the hospital where those injured are receiving treatment.