…says herders killed over 200 farmers in three years
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, yesterday, said victims of violent attacks taking refuge in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state have been stealing from his farm to keep life going. Ortom, who has a farm in Gbajimba, Guma Local Government Area, where one of the IDP camps is located, said he is affected. The state government has been accusing Fulani herdsmen of being the brains behind attacks on communities that have claimed lives, with survivors taking refuge in IDP camps.
Ortom, who received, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Sam Waldock, at Government House in Makurdi, lamented the growing humanitarian crisis facing the state following attacks on communities. According to him, over 200 farmers have been killed in separate attacks in the last three years.
He said, “It has become very painful handling the humanitarian crisis in the state. As I talk to you, people who have been displaced from their homes cannot get enough food because Benue State does not have the capacity to produce enough food for 1.5 million people. “Our people (the IDPs) are coerced and forced into becoming thieves. Anybody that has done his farm, they go there and steal from there. I am a victim because I am one of the greatest farmers in Benue State. My rice farm, my cassava farm, my yam farm, my soya beans farm and everything have been stolen by the IDPs and you can imagine, how can I go and confront an IDP who stole from my farm and take him to the police to be prosecuted? “I am a Christian, I have passion for the people.
I reach out but this is the challenge and it is caused by these terrorists Fulani men.” The governor stressed the need for the establishment of a Peace Commission in the state to help address the humanitarian crisis, adding that Benue has been unfairly treated by the Muhammadu Buhari government. He also commended the support of states like Taraba, Rivers and Akwa Ibom towards addressing the plight of the displaced persons. Ortom said it was because of the ill-treatment meted out to him that he had to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressive Congress (APC). “It has not been easy for me. I have been denied benefits that would have come to me as a person and to the state, but I prefer to toe the line of justice, equity and fairness and on that I stand,” he said. Waldock, who was accompanied by the Conflict Advisor, British High Commission, Paul Bem Nyoraku, told the governor that he was in the state to seek partnership in the area of peace and security and the level of preparedness ahead of the 2023 general elections, among other issues