Over 200 People Killed In Benue This Year, Group Disclose

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A group, MINDA Strategic Contact Group (MSCG) has disclosed that over 200 people have been killed by suspected herdsmen between January and April of this year in Benue State.

This is as the Chairman of Langtang North Local Government Council Area of Plateau State, Hon. Ubandoma Joshua Laven, has been decorated as state patron of Vigilante Group of Nigeria VGN, with the mandate to get rid of criminal elements in the state.

But the Archbishop of the African Church, Lagos Province, Most Reverend Julius Oludotun, has called on the federal and state governments to make efforts to tackle the seemingly intractable security problem.

However, on the Benue killings, the MINDA group has also raised the alarm over what it described as threat to exterminate Benue by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

The group, while briefing reporters at the BIPC center, Makurdi, disclosed that the over 200 people killed were scatted across such councils as Logo, Kwande, Guma, Makurdi, Gwer West, Apa, Agatu, Ado and Okpowku local government areas of the state with wanton destruction of farm crops, produce and property worth billions of naira.

In a statement read by a former Permanent Secretary, Government House, Dr. Tivlumun Nyitse, the group called on the federal government to live up to its full constitutional responsibility and provide security for the lives and property of the people of the state.

The group also condemned the recent unprovoked armed attack on Governor Samuel Ortom and the one on Abagana IDP Camp by suspected herdsmen in which seven people lost their lives and many others injured.

While calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to rise and turn the tide against insecurity in the country, he urged him to arrest the drift to a failed state, eschew provincialism and be the president of all Nigerians so as to preserve, protect and enhance the unity of the country.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we stand with the Governor of Benue State to demand that President Muhammadu Buhari should rise up to his duties as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to protect all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion or sex because this is the primary responsibility of government as enshrined in the constitution for which he also swore on oath to do,” the statement emphasised.

However, from Jos, Laven, who spoke shortly after his decoration at the council’s secreteriat in Langtang North at the weekend, said peace, security and the well being of Nigerians remainedparamount and a panacea for economic and political development of the country.

The chairman also called for adequate support to all other volunteer security outfits to rid the society of criminal elements.

He argued that vigilante groups should be permitted by the federal government to carry small arms so that they could effectively police their environment, adding: “We can not go after kidnappers and bandits with bare hands as doing so will endanger our lives in the line of duties.”

He said there was an urgent need for government at the three tiers to support the vigilante group of Nigeria by training and empowering them to support the fight against crimes such as armed robbery, banditry, kidnapping and all forms of anti-social behaviours in the society.

“It is no longer news that the capacity of the Nigerian Police today cannot curtail the rising trend of criminal violence in the society, hence the need for community policing like the VGN.

“I make bold to say that the vigilante group are closer to the communities and if properly engaged, they can contribute in addressing the overwhelming security challenges bedevilling the nation,” he said.

The Council boss further said experience has shown in recent times how vigilante groups mostly comprising of volunteers, operating under the mandate of community consensus to fight crime have recorded huge success.

He therefore advised Nigerians to communally police their environment to complement the efforts of other security agencies in the fight against the menace of banditry and kidnapping that have now become a lucrative business in the country.

Administrative commander of vigilante group of Nigeria, Plateau State command, Abubakar Sadiq said the chairman was chosen from among many others to be their Patron, because of his contribution to the growth and development of his immediate community .

According to him, to whom much is given, much is expected and as such expressed confident that the chairman, now their patron, would do better than he has been doing in the past.

On his part, Oludotun made the appeal at a press conference held yesterday at the African Church Saviour’s Cathedral, Agege Diocese to commemorate the 3rd Biennial Congress and the 5th year founder’s day anniversary of the Lagos Province with the theme: “He is able”.

The cleric raised fears about the worsening trend of abductions and kidnappings that is clearly overwhelming the security apparatus of the nation.

“The government should tighten the security apparatus of the nation and we the citizens should obey simple instructions. We appeal to the federal and state governments that they should accord security the importance it deserves, because all of us know we are not safe, especially, the Church.

“I won’t deceive you, they are after the church but we know as Christians we are normal, we don’t fight if there is any problems, we pray to God. The states have a group called Amotekun. In some states now they have already defeated the bandits, so, the federal government should do more on security, especially, because they are after the Church now.

“We as Christians need to turn back to God. We are equally guilty of some of the sins committed. Our God is able just as earlier stated to deliver us from every challenge and unpalatable situation we may be going through now. We know with God all things are possible, Nigeria needs prayer at crucial time, by the grace of God peace will come back to Nigeria.”