Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that with the utterances of Idris Ibrahim, Inspector General of Police, he must have taken sides with killer Fulani herdsmen.
The governor also said that the death toll from the recent killings in the state by Fulani herdsmen has increased by 11 since the burial of 73 of the victims in January, noting that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has risen from about 80,000 to over 100,000.
The governor made this known at the weekend in Makurdi in a statement by Terver Akase, his Chief Press Secretary (CPS).
The governor slammed the view said to have been expressed by Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, that the killings were provoked by “‘mere communal clash’” arising from implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law.
He said the statement credited to the IGP showed that he was taking sides with Myetti Allah Kautal Hore, the herdsmen association.
He argued that it was the reason that the leaders of the group were yet to be arrested.
Ortom expressed worry that the security situation in the state had – far from improving – worsened since the IGP abandoned the state, contrary to the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the IGP relocates to Benue until the security situation improved.
“Nigerians must know that contrary to the statement credited to the IGP, herdsmen are still killing people in Benue.
“It will, therefore, be wrong to say that enough security has been provided.
“At the last count, after the mass burial of 73 victims of the attacks, about ten people have been killed in Guma Local Government Area, one killed in Logo and many more are receiving treatment in the hospital having suffered varying degrees of injuries with property worth millions of naira destroyed.
“Benue now has nearly 100, 000 displaced persons in seven camps established by the state government.”
Regarding the statement made by the IGP, the governor said, “The unfortunate claim by the IGP (that the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law was the cause of the killings in Benue) indicates that some of those saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property as well as maintaining law and order have abdicated their duty and become accomplices with those undermining the very existence of the country. This is shameful.
“The constitutional responsibility of the police is to maintain law and order and not to make or criticise same.
“That the IGP would have the audacity to blame a law made to ensure peace in the state and call for its repeal amounts to taking sides with lawless groups that gave notice to invade and carried out their threats.
“There is no surprise that the police ignored petitions for the arrest and prosecution of leaders of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the masterminds of the current invasion and the attendant massacre.
“If the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Idris, is not competent to help bring an end to the invasion and killing of innocent people in Benue and other states by herdsmen, the noble thing to do is to resign instead of twisting facts to suit his objective”, Akase observed.
The government said either the IGP was deliberately out to mislead the people or was complicit in the attacks on the Benue people.
Akase, who said he was trying to put the records straight, explained that Benue had been attacked by herdsmen over 50 times before the enactment of the law, and wondered why the IGP would now turn around to blame the attacks on a law aimed at restoring peace, and also asking that it be suspended.
“If truly the IGP said what was widely reported by the media, our conclusion is that his is a clear case of a man who is either on a mission to mislead the nation or is complicit in the attacks on Benue communities, and the killing of many people by terror herdsmen.
“IGP Idris needs to be reminded that Fulani herdsmen attacked Benue State more than 50 times and killed scores of people before the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law was enacted in the state. The law could therefore not have been the cause of the crisis.
“The IGP should tell Nigerians if states like Adamawa, Zamfara, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Enugu, Edo, Plateau, among others, where armed herdsmen have killed hundreds of people also have anti-open grazing laws in place.
“With his latest demand that the ranching law of Benue be suspended, it is now clear where the loyalty and interest of the Inspector General of Police lies – certainly not with innocent Nigerians.
“He has now positioned himself not only as the mouthpiece of those who are killing Benue people but indeed as their shield.
“Little wonder herdsmen still proudly carry out sophisticated weapons and willfully terrorise innocent people in the state without being arrested.
“A few days after the killings took place and all fingers were pointed towards the direction of armed herdsmen, the IGP quickly rose in defence of the herdsmen and frantically tried to divert attention from the genocide being perpetrated by herdsmen with a comment that it was a ‘mere communal clash’. Did he not know that there was a law in place in Benue State when he made that statement?”
“We wish to place it on record that contrary to the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the Inspector General of Police relocates to Benue to ensure that the killings stopped, the IGP spent only one day in Benue and left for a destination where only he could tell.
“No one has seen him in Benue since that day,” the governor stated.