From Chris Gaga, Makurdi
In continued efforts to ensure that permanent peace is achieved within the state, Stakeholders in Benue have advocated full implementation of State gazzetted laws against Cultisms, drug abuse, hostage taking, and other varying crimes to avoid breach of peace in some quarters of the state.
The stakeholders, comprising of representatives of Benue state government, the police, DSS, Immigration,Civil defence.traditional rulers, civil society organizations and human right groups, farmers, herders as well as People With Disabilities, made this recommendation at a Peace Architecture Dialogue meeting called by Search for Common Ground, an international NGO working for peace in Benue.
They emphasized the need for institutions to be more stronger than individuals as well as elimination of undue influence by higher authorities on the operation of security agencies in their quest to curb crimes.
The stakeholders also observed that a deeper collaboration between government, Security agencies and Civil Society Organizations among other institutions will reduce the incidences of herder/farmer crisis to the barest minimum.
They noted that incidences of herder/farmer crisis and other vices heightening insecurity in the state have continued to linger due to lack of honesty, transparency and cooperation among various institutions and higher authorities within the state.
The stakehokders who commended security agents for hard work, however condemned the unhealthy role played by some “authorities” especially when culprits are arrested and handed over to the police.
It was learned at the meeting that when culprits are arrested, some “big men” will use their Privilleged positions to bail the boys back into the society even before the case is established, a situation they observed was encouraging crimes in the state.
They noted that as a way out, government, security agencies, professional bodies, CSOs and all stakeholders must synergize with the aim of dealing wholesomely with the tide.
The stakeholders who noted that every traditional ruler or community leader knows his subjects and what they were capable of doing, sugggested that government should make a pronouncement of dethronement on any traditional leader found to be shielding criminals.
They also urged authorities to recruit both farmers and herders into vigilantee groups for easy identification of strangers and criminals in their various communities just as they also called for attitudinal change and the will to accept change to enable peace return to the state.
The State Project Coordinator for Search, Mr. Joshua Chorbe said Search for Common ground has continued to create understanding, social integration and pathway to sustainable peace among farmers and herders in Benue.
He said the aim of the meeting is to seek ways to engender peace through collaborative and cooperative approaches that will stop the crisis, usher in enduring changes and peace in the state.
Mr Chorbe urged PAD members to use their organization to carryout advocacies in their domain participant called on the federal government, security agencies and other stake holders to give it the seriousness it deserves to usher in peace and unity in the country.
Our Correspondent reports that ‘Search for Common Ground’ according to the stakeholders has contributed immensely to the current peace experienced in the State especially in the LGs that were the worst hit of herdsmen attacks.
Gunmen Kill Three As They Abduct Eight In Sokoto Village
Three persons have been killed while others sustained varying injuries as bandits invaded Soro community, Binji Local Government Area of the state on Monday.
The state police Public Relations Officer, ASP Ahmad Rufai, while confirming the attack, disclosed that some gunmen suspected to be bandits launched an attack on the Soro community but men of the command with the support of military operatives swiftly moved in and successfully repelled the attack.However, the police spokesman said the bandits out of frustration, set some houses on fire as a result of which three of the residents lost their lives while a few others sustained various degrees of injuries. The PUNCH learnt from sources in the affected village that the marauders regrettably successfully abducted several other persons.“ Eight people, who are mostly women were abducted and carried away on motorcycle by the bandits,” a local hunter disclosed .Some community members who spoke about the incident informed The PUNCH that some vigilante groups who carried out a reprisal attack on a Fulani community led to a situation that forced the police commissioner, Ali Kaigama, to intervene and initiate a dialogue among the residents of the affected areas.
Freed Journalist Narrates Ordeal in Kidnapper’s Den
By David Torough, Abuja
A journalist with The Pavilion Newspaper, Moses Ogaga , who was recently abducted described his experience in the hands of his abductors as horrible.
Ogaga was kidnapped along with 13 others on September 17, in Benue.
He, said, although an undisclosed amount of money was paid by family members before they were released, no man should take the glory except God as he said, only God’s grace and mercy kept them alive.
Narrating his ordeal to DAILY ASSET, Ogaga stated that their vehicle ran into the kidnappers numbering about 6, carrying sophisticated weapons, who shot sporadically in the air with their faces masked.
He said that the criminals broke some portions of the vehicle’s windscreens, held passengers on-board captive and guarded them into the forest, where they were severely tortured.
“The abductors who were suspected to be nomadic Fulanis communicated among themselves in Fulani language but speak the common broken-English to their captives; and have cattle mooing around in the nearby bushes and the cattle were always moved to a closer range to wherever we were moved to.”
“When we were asked to declare our tribal identity, we were so discretional; it was later gathered from our captors that if any was found to be a Tiv, Agatu or Igede person from Obi LG specifically, it would have been deadly.”
He stated that while in the forest, their abductors ensured that any communication to their family members or friends was not in any other dialect but the common broken-English and was restricted and targeted at payment of ransom only.
“ We were stripped of everything in our pockets and given no food or water for the first two nights and days and we were severally moved from one spot to another through the nights and days; ordering us to lie face down, drenched in the mud, beaten by pests and the heavy rains in spite the corporal punishment and we became so weak and tired and felt hell while on earth,’ he lamented.
He disclosed that ransom for the victims was not the same but dependent on the amount accepted by the kidnappers, using based on their judgment to rate victims differently and the power of bargain from the respective rescuers.
Ogaga further hinted that his case was bad because he was found with an NUJ identity card and was believed to be government functionary and instrumental to castigating their operations, adding that two of his SIM cards and a 3-sim Tecno touch-light phone were not returned to him by the kidnappers.
He faulted the security architecture in the country and lamented that the security officers on highway check-points have turned their priority on financial gains from commercial vehicle drivers instead of protection of lives and property.
“And except proactive and tactical security measures are deployed to nip this ugly trend to the bud, we are vulnerable and left at the mercy of the perpetrators of this heinous act,” he reinstated.
He maintained that while in captivity, there was no security intervention of any sort, “no police, no soldier or the villagers attempted in any way to rescue us.”
New Kwara Police Commissioner Vows to Deal With Cultism, Kidnapping
From Alfred Babs Ilorin
The newly posted Commissioner of Police to Kwara State, Victor Olaiya has vowed to deal with monstrous issues of cultism and kidnapping in the state.
Olaiya, who assumed office as the Police Commissioner in Ilorin, the state capital on Monday, September 25, 2023 told the officers in the Command to brace up and work to reduce the incident of criminality in the state.
While addressing the command’s strategic managers, Olaiya said that he strongly has determination to deal ruthlessly with all manner of criminals in the state, regardless of their nomenclature.
In a statement signed by SP Okasanmi Ajayi, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) on Monday, Olaiya declared his total abhorrence to laziness, negligence, and armchair style of leadership..
The Commissioner, an adherent of the rule of law said that he would use the community policing strategy in line with global best practices to flush out the criminals from the state.
Olaiya, who hails from Lagos State, had in his 31 years in the Police service served in various states of the Federation including Imo, Plateau, Oyo, Bauchi, Abuja and Benue states.
” Victor Olaiya, a strong believer in serving God through humanity and an unrepentant defender of the fundamental rights of the citizens,” the statement said.
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