The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to caution his aides against unguarded and inflammatory statements that could rekindle embers of discord among ethnic nationalities in the country.
He stated this on Thursday at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi in a closing remarks at the Benue State Stakeholder Engagement on Local Level Security and Conflict Prevention Mechanisms organized by the technical committee on farmers/herders crisis under the National Economic Council, NEC.
The Governor noted that such comments especially as it concerns farmers and herders crisis further raise suspicion and apprehension among Nigerians and could aggravate the already tensed atmosphere in the country.
He stated that already, the non arrest of prime suspects in the Benue killings by security agents despite several appeals to that effect had created room for suspicion, adding that making inflammatory statements on the subject matter further gives credence to allegations of connivance and collaboration by those in high places.
He commended the new steps taken by the Ministry of Defense by setting up a fact finding committee to identify the remote and immediate causes of the herders invasion of the state with a view to finding lasting solution to same, stressing that his initial steps of apportioning blames were incorrect.
The Governor acknowledged the untiring efforts of Operation Whirl Stroke in restoring peace in the state, stressing however that boundary areas of neighbouring states needed to be further safeguarded to give more confidence to the displaced persons to return home.
Earlier while addressing another committee on farmers/herders crisis from the federal ministry of defense led by Brigadier General Umar Ibrahim, Governor Ortom noted that Benue indigenes who live in other states obey the laws of those states, pointing out that the Benue Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law should also be respected by those who wish to rear cattle in the state.
Leader of the NEC delegation and secretary of the committee, Dr. Andrew Kwasari, and that of the committee from ministry of defense, Brig. General Ibrahim, promised to convey the submissions of the stakeholders to the appropriate authorities for necessary action.
Traditional rulers, the academia, religious leaders, representatives of major ethnic nationalities in the state among others made various submissions on the subject matter.