Makurdi – Gov Samuel Ortom has decried the ‘deplorable conditions’ of the camps hosting people displaced by the incessant attacks on Benue rural communities, and called for urgent measures to address the situation.
“The camps are terrible; the living conditions there are nauseating. Something urgent must be done to assist the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),” Ortom said on Thursday.
Ortom spoke in Makurdi when he received members of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation, led by is chairman, Babangda Aliyu, at the Banquet hall of the Benue People’s House, Makurdi.
He said that 60 per cent of the IDPs were children who had missed examinations and did not know when to return to school.
” The facilities at the camps are inadequate and too deplorable to provide minimum comfort for these children.
“The attacks keep going on and more people are fleeing their homes and taking refuge in the camps, making them overcrowded.
“In spite of the presence of “Exercise Cat Race”, herders are still killing and displacing local farmers from their ancestral homes.
“The Benue people are law abiding and have refrained from resorting to violence even at the height of provocation, but we cannot continue like this,” he said.
He called on members of the foundation to appeal to the federal government to pursue justice for his people.
“All we ask of the federal government is justice, the rule of law and an end to impunity. We have suffered too much in the hands of the herders who carry out these attacks against our people with impunity.
” Between 2012 and 2018, we have had 47 attacks on Benue communities. Lives and property worth millions have been lost, but in spite of these attacks, we have remained law abiding.”
He said it was difficult to revive grazing routes, and called on herdsmen in the state to obey the anti-open grazing law.
Also speaking, Ortom’s predecessor and deputy chairman of the foundation, Gabriel Suswam, commended the people for supporting their governor on the law, and assured them that the foundation would relay their message to the government.
He assured Ortom of his support toward achieving peace in the state.
“I will work with Gov Ortom towards achieving peace in the state; our party differences will not affect this commitment.
“It was the Tor Tiv that ordered me to work with the governor to ensure peace in the state. As someone who has received so much from the state, I have to obey.”
Suswam appealed to the federal government to work out modalities toward halting the influx of foreign herders in the country.
“The killings in the country seem to get worse everyday. Government must rise to this challenge,” he said. (NAN)