Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has revealed that the unprovoked attacks by Fulani terrorists on unarmed people of the state since 2011 have claimed more than 5,000 lives in the state.
Governor Ortom spoke on Thursday during the passing out parade of the first batch of 500 personnel of Benue State Community Volunteer Guards at the IBB Square, Makurdi.
The Governor noted that the worsening insecurity in the country has complicated Benue State’s security situation as other forms of criminality have started creeping in due to the federal government’s refusal to decisively address insecurity.
Governor Ortom said it was due to the failure of the federal government that the state government decided to revisit the Benue State Vigilante Law of 2000, which was enacted to complement the conventional security agencies in the state to address emerging security issues.
He explained that the law had to be amended by his administration to pave the way for the Community Volunteer Guards to assist the conventional security agencies to curb insecurity in the state.
According to the Governor, “By the provisions of the new law, the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards can therefore carry legally approved weapons which we have duly provided.”
Governor Ortom maintained that although the campaign of terror has spread across Nigeria, Benue State has been specifically targeted because of his “Administration’s insistence on the rule of law rather than the rule of terror and for always standing with my people in their refusal to surrender their land, identity and Judeo-Christian faith and values to the Islamization agenda,” he said.
According to Governor Ortom “The Benue State Community Volunteer Guards represent our modest attempt to support our communities in their daily struggle to escape the worst of the atrocities of the terrorists Fulani herdsmen.
“As we all witness, the passing-out parade of these able-bodied young men, we believe that security will improve in Benue State,” Governor Ortom stated.
Governor Ortom also expressed optimism that “The issue of banditry, kidnapping, robbery and most of all, the issue of terrorists Fulani herdsmen attack would be reduced to the barest minimum.”
He stressed that operations of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards would be strictly guided by the enabling law, warning that any personnel found operating outside the law would be shown the way out.
Earlier, Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Lt. Col. Paul Hemba (Rtd) had said the first batch of 500 personnel of the Community Volunteer Guards have been trained as riot squad, unarmed combat squad and intelligence gathering to work with conventional security agencies at the grassroots to curb insecurity, urging the personnel to be professional in the discharge of their duties.
The Tor Tiv and Chairman, Benue State Council of Chiefs, His Royal Majesty, Professor James Ayatse in a goodwill message commended the State House of Assembly for enacting the enabling law and pledged the full support of the traditional institution to the security outfit.
President-General of Mzough u Tiv, CP Iorbee Ihagh, (Rtd) and President-General, Tiv Youth Organization, Timothy Hembaor also gave goodwill messages on behalf of socio-cultural organizations in the State.