Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom, escaped death by the whiskers in a peaceful protest that turned violent staged by the National Union of Benue State Students, NUBESS, in protest against the killing of 50 innocent people of the state by armed Fulani herdsmen.
The protest which was later hijacked by hoodlums, started at about 7 O’clock in the morning and lasted for over five hours as irate youths made bonfires and blockaded the Wurukum roundabout that links the state to both the North and Southern parts of the country.
The situation forced travellers to become stranded in the scorching sun as some drivers had to take their passengers into the bush for cover until the situation became calm.
It took security men several hours to dislodge the protesters who carried various placards bearing inscriptions such as: “PMB act now or lose our votes in Benue”, “We are tired of burning our loved ones, Fulani must leave”, PMB must come down himself” among others and shouting “No going back”.
But hours later, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bashir Makama led his men to dismantle the road blocks and disperse the protesters shortly after which Governor Ortom, in company of top government functionaries and security aides stormed the area as he trekked from Mr. Biggs roundabout to Wurukum roundabout to address them.
Speaking to newsmen, National President Ihyerev Youth Association. Hon. Ben Titus Terna decried the nonchalant attitude shown by the Federal government over the senseless killings in the state describing it as a grand conspiracy against Benue people.
“The President has remained adamant. We are defenceless and have resorted to defending ourselves. We will continue to stage this protest for seven days. We want the entire world and international community to come to our aid”, said Titus.
Governor Ortom who cut short the Security Council meeting, headed straight to the scene of the protest, but his attempt to address the protesters was vehemently resisted as the youths started throwing stones, empty water sachets and logs of wood at him while some thunderously booed the governor whose attempts to calm the angry youths proved abortive.
But security men responded swiftly and whisked the Governor out of the riotous situation in a Hilux van just as Policemen shot live bullets and tear gas canisters into the air to disperse the crowd.
Addressing Journalists at the banquet hall of Government House, the governor expressed concern at the anger of the people but urged them to remain calm.
He assured them that government is proactive in securing the lives and property of the people, reiterating that there is no going on the Anti- prohibition law.
“There is no alternative to ranching. I pray with the people not engaged in a reprisal attack. Let us remain law-abiding.”Orton urged.
Governor Ortom restated his call on security agencies to arrest leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautai Hore who have vowed to thwart the anti-open grazing law.
“They are sabotaging the law. The Federal government should rise to the responsibility and arrest leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautai Hore. If they do not do this, then they are telling us that we are not part of Nigeria. They are trying to throw us into a state of anarchy. This is unacceptable. Justice will take it cause. Meanwhile, we have requested for deployment of more security in Makurdi and its environs. We will get to the root of the matter and so, nobody should take the law into its hands. Any gathering of any sort is allowed in Makurdi without permission of the Commissioner of Police”, Ortom warned
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