<<< By Ede Ogaba Ede >>>
In the true spirit of good brotherliness, a delegation of the government and people of Benue State led by the State Deputy Governor, Engr. Benson Abounu, yesterday visited Governor Simon Lalong to commiserate with the government and people of Plateau State over the recent killings where Fulani herdsmen militia slew some 200 unarmed villagers, most gruesomely.
The delegation, which comprised traditional rulers, elder statesmen, clergymen, women and members of the civil society, was received at Government House, Rayfield, Jos by Governor Simon Lalong represented by his deputy, Prof. Sonni Tyoden.
Speaking, Engr Benson Abounu said Governor Samuel Ortom, the government and people of Benue state are saddened by the news of the killings, its sheer magnitude and the fact that it is becoming an intermittent occurrence with no one or community spared the trauma of the attacks.
He said that the Benue people identify with their Plateau brothers at this critical hour of their pains, adding that being “brothers of the Benue Plateau stock” whatever happens to Plateau, happens to Benue; good or bad. He stated that having themselves suffered the same fate repeatedly; they know the pains of daily burials of their loved ones and being thrown away from their places of abode and deprived of their means of economic survival.
Engr Abounu described as unacceptable the continuous killings going on in the country, averring that the bloodletting, which is more concentrated in the Middle Belt must stop; calling it an ill wind that spells disaster for the country. He expressed fears of looming famine in the country next year if the attack, killings and displacement of the farming communities of the Middle Belt are not halted.
He called on all Nigerians to support and encourage the President to do the needful in order to end the killings and commended the Nigeria Governors Forum for stepping into finding solutions to the problem.
Responding, Governor Lalong thanked the government and people of Benue State for standing with them at this critical time of their history. He particularly thanked Governor Ortom who though was part of the delegation of the Nigeria Governors Forum that paid a solidarity visit to the state a few days ago still returned with the state delegation.
He said the orgy of violence, which he disclosed started on the Plateau several years ago, is today assuming a frightening national dimension, though its epicentre is still in the Middle Belt.
Governor Lalong stated that if Nigerians do not all rise up as Nigerians to condemn what is happening, the violence would consume us one by one as it moves from state to state.
He said the situation where 11 villages were under attack for seven hours and there was no reaction from the security forces is worrisome, adding that it seems the nation is in a state of internal war. While acknowledging the professional competence of both the Army and the Police, he wondered why it is taking so long to decisively contain the violence that is about tearing the country apart. He therefore called for a total review of the security architecture in the country.