By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has appealed to the international community to put pressure on the Federal Government to address the unabating acts of terrorism by armed herdsmen in the country without religious or ethnic bias.
He said at the moment, it appears that the current administration in Nigeria is unwilling to wield the big stick against murderous terrorist groups.
According to the statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, Governor Ortom made the appeal when he interacted with a delegation from the United Kingdom Parliaments All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion and Beliefs at the Benue State Governor’s Lodge Asokoro, Abuja.
The Governor stated that being a multi religious and ethnic country, the Federal Government which is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the rights of the people as enshrined in the constitution are protected, ought to take the task more seriously than it is currently doing.
According to Governor Ortom, the inability of the federal government to act swiftly to tame the rise of terror attacks on communities in the country for many years now by Islamic extremists with the sole aim of taking over the country must be put to an end.
He alleged that the current appointment of suspected Boko Haram supporters into key federal offices, integration of repentant members of the sect into the military and failure of Government to arrest and prosecute terrorist herdsmen have also proven the complicity of Government.
He noted that for the sake of national unity, cohesion, peaceful coexistence and promotion of development, the rights of the people to freedom of religion must also be respected by the Nigerian state, hence the need for the international community to intervene by putting pressure on the Government to do the right thing.
Governor Ortom also told the visiting Parliamentarians that due to the activities of these terrorist groups, over 1.5 million people have been displaced from their ancestral lands and properties worth billions of naira destroyed in Benue State as a result of the invasion.
He recommended that, there was need for rehabilitation and return of IDPs to their ancestral homes as well as payment of full compensation to victims.
Responding, leader of the delegation and member of Parliament from Ireland, Mr. Jim Shannon thanked Governor Ortom for availing the delegation with a comprehensive insight into the issues assured that they would present his case at the right department back home to get positive results.
In their separate comments, Brendan O’Hara, of House of Commons and Rachel Miner who acknowledged that the religious crisis in Nigeria was getting worse said they would continue to talk to Government, religious and civil society leaders to effect the desired change.