A civil society organization, Foundation for Truth and Justice, has called on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his Taraba State counterpart, Darius Ishaku to urgently explain their roles in the recent killing of citizens in the states by suspected herdsmen.
The group said it was reacting to the recent revelations made by some militia groups when they were arrested by the military.
Upon apprehension, the militia group who where armed to their teeth with various sophisticated weapons, claimed they were answerable to the governor, Ortom.
Speaking on the shocking revelations, Martins Nwaiwu, National President of the group said the governor must come out to explain his role in the attack that occurred in his hometown, Logo and neighboring Guma LGAs.
FTJ said there is a need for full disclosure by Governor Ortom on the role of the Civilian JTF because its existence has worsened the mutual suspicion between farmers and herders in the state.
He said, “as you all must have known from the reports by your various organizations, a tragedy is unfolding in Benue State.
“The state has witnessed a needless waste of human lives from the ongoing crisis between farmers and herdsmen. 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.
“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:
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
The confessions that members of the group were armed by the State Government, at a time that there was no issue of violence between farmers and herdsmen, despite the fact that the State Government has passed the anti-grazing law is bothersome.
“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. ”
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.
He added, “Furthermore, 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 worsening of the crisis anywhere in the country.”
The group further called for state of emergency in the state to serve as a warning to the governor and other political actors who think they can make a mockery of the security situation in the country.