From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Benue Youth Forum has raised concerns over an alleged plan by Fulani herdsmen to aggressively attack state Governor Samuel Ortom’s home.
The group appealed to security agencies to intensify surveillance in border communities of the state, particularly in Guma where Fulani herder groups have vowed to carry out more attacks.
In a statement signed by the president of the Forum, Terrence Kuanum, and made available to newsmen on Monday, the group alleged that the herders, who are said to have been holding meetings in some northern states, have singled out Governor Ortom as their prime target.
‘Unverified information has it that the latest meeting of the evil planners took place at a community in Bauchi on the border between the state and Kano State,’ the statement read.
‘The aim of the armed herdsmen is to intimidate the Governor through sustained attacks and force him to repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law to give their cattle unhindered access to Benue lands.’
They recalled that Governor Ortom recently alleged that his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, was profiling him for attacks, and that if anything happens to him, Governor Bala should be held responsible. This follows the seeming support the Bauchi Governor publicly gave armed herdsmen.
‘Is it a coincidence that the said meeting and plot to attack Governor Ortom’s country home took place in Bauchi?
‘Our investigation points to the fact that the same terror groups are remotely behind the communal clashes within Benue State to paint a picture of anarchy and make the Governor to appear as one who has lost control of affairs of his state. The sophistication and audacity the communal crises have assumed lays credence to the suspicion of external influence.’
The Forum backed the call for the arrest of indigenous suspects, urging security operatives to focus on sponsors of the crises who may not be residing within the state.
The group commiserated with families of military men who were attacked recently in the crisis between Oju and Konshisha just, calling on fellow youths who have allowed themselves to be used by terrorists to desist from such acts and be partners in development.
‘While commending security agencies for their efforts in restoring peace in Benue State, we charge them to do more to enable our people who are in IDP camps to return to their ancestral homes.
‘We also urge security agencies to exhibit high level of professionalism in their dealings with the civilian population and to act fast when intelligence is made available to them regarding security threats.
‘We pledge our unalloyed support to Governor Samuel Ortom and commend his gallantry in standing tall and firm in the protection of his people. We will always stand with him,’ the statement read.