Uncertainty in Benue as Buhari visits , Ortom tasks residents on proper conduct
As the Benue State Government and her people await the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, as herdsmen continue their attacks on communities, The Abuja Inquirer can report that air of uncertainty pervades the state.
Against this background, Governor Samuel Ortom has appealed to the people to conduct themselves in a proper manner.
Our correspondent gathered that most indigenes of the state are not enthusiastic about the visit and had hoped the president had visited sooner and made firm efforts to tackle the menace of herdsmen ravaging communities across the state.
In view of the visit, Ortom had suspended the planned mass burial for victims of latest attacks by herdsmen last Friday.
Ortom speaking to journalists at the Abagena Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camp, in Makurdi, after he received keys to the facility from representatives of the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation for temporary use of the camp to accommodate victims of Fulani attacks, expressed the hope that citizens in the state will be law abiding and to be of good conduct when the president arrives.
According to him, Buhari has already sent a presidential committee on rehabilitation to the state to assess all damages caused by the invaders.
"Mr. President has demonstrated that he is concerned with the plight of the people and he has directed that all those armed mercenaries or herdsmen should be apprehended, arrested and prosecuted."
Asked what he was expecting from the president's visit, Ortom said he expects security will be strengthened in all Benue communities so that the displaced persons can return to their homes without attacks or harassment.
"We are excited about his visit and we are very eager to receive him. We have been expecting him to come to Benue state and his visit will mean that Security will be strenghtened in all the villages that were attacked and I am expecting that there should be more support coming from the Federal Government to rebuild these villages and the IDP to be provided with some minimum help to go back and settle in their land without been harassed again"
Speaking in the same vein, chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Abba Yaro, had simply said "the president is welcome to Benue state.
"He is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is free to visit Benue. If he comes, we will receive him".
However, a Benue indigene, Mr. Dennis Mernyi, was less than hopeful of the visit.
“Less than 48 hours to President Buhari's to Benue, my state, I am jittery and scared.
“I think Buhari should not come to Benue. Reasons: He was in Taraba on Monday, two local governments in that state, Takum and Ussa, came under heavy attack by his kinsmen terrorists. Many were killed. Thursday he traveled to Plateau, the next day (Friday) scores were killed as soon as he left.
“The same Monday he was in Taraba, Fulani terrorists attacked communities in Idumoga in Okpokwu local government of Benue state, about 24 were massacred.
“My fear: should this man come to Benue, ha! These mindless killers will level the state while he is still in town.
“I think when he visits, he ask them to go and kill more. I am only expressing my fears as one of the victims of the Fulani terrorists.
Enough of bloodshed in Benue,” Mernyi noted.
Also, Nat Apir, an elder of the state, was rather angry that the mass burial of those killed in Idumoga and Okpokwu was cancelled.
“If true that the mass burial has been cancelled then it will be most unfortunate! The mass burials must hold or we lose the moral high ground...to Buhari and his merchants of death.
“This is clearly an attempt at covering up crimes of genocide, and ethnic cleansing against the peoples of the Benue Valley. Who are those prominent so-called Benue sons working for Buhari against the people's interest?”
According to Mr. Apir, he does not see any assurances from President Buhari that he will stop and or arrest those behind the killings in the state.”