Chris Steven, Abuja
A group, the Foundation for Truth and Justice has berated Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom for arming militias in order to protect the anti open grazing law in place in the state.
The Coordinator of the group, Martins Nwaiwu who addressed newsmen on Thursday in Abuja on the truth behind the state sponsored civilian joint taskforce said what has been less reported however is the ignoble role of the man who should have prevented the whole carnage in the first place, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
He said, “after taking time to understand the underlying factors in this avoidable crisis, the Foundation for Truth and Justice is aghast at what it has found out.
“It is on the strength of this discovery that we have invited you to this world press conference.
“Nigerians need to know all the truth about the role of the Benue State Governor in the Herdsmen/ Farmers’ crisis in the State.
“What we found out has been corroborated by the confessions of the members of the (Benue State) Civilian JTF on national television.
“That the military arrested several persons operating as Civilian JTF in Benue state
“They answer to Governor Samuel Ortom and some of his senior officials
“Members of the Civilian JTF received weapons from the state governor
Governor Ortom and his aides replenish ammunitions for these firearms whenever they are depleted
“Members of the Civilian JTF had no prior training in the use of firearms but have been promised training by the state government.
While members operate under the name “Civilian JTF” their actual modus operandi is that of an ethnic militia
“They have directives to target specific ethnic groups or persons engaged in specific occupations”he added
The group calls for a full disclosure by Governor Ortom on the role of the Civilian JTF because its existence has worsened the mutual suspicion between farmers and herders.
” A full disclosure has become important to help in unraveling the culpability of Governor Samuel Ortom in the ongoing crisis.
“It is important to know if he deliberately set his people up for political gains”he added
The group also demanded that the Federal Government orders a full investigation into the activities of Benue State Sponsored Civillian Joint Task Force (CJTF) identified to be in the middle of recent crisis between herdsmen and Farmers in Benue State.
“Furthrmore, in the face of this mutual suspicion and considering the sanctity of lives of the citizens of the State, we are calling for deployment of the military to the affected communities to maintain law and order.
“We also demand that a state of emergency be immediately declared in Benue State and any other states where crisis between herders and farmers may break out in the nearest future so as to forestall any further deuteriation of the crisis anywhere in the country.
“The state of emergency will also serve as a warning to Governors and other political actors who think they can make a mockery of the security situation in the county by unnecessarily engaging in political jamborees for selfish reasons.
“These are steps that must be taken urgently”he concluded.