BENUE State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has disclosed that no fewer than 50 security personnel were killed by militia herdsmen between January and August 2018.
Governor Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said attacks on Benue communities by the militia herdsmen had only subsided due to the presence of Operation Whirl Stroke, noting that some security agents were killed recently by the marauders.
According to the statement, the governor disclosed this at Chihichan, Mbakume, Gwer-East Local Government Area of the state during the burial of David Upuu, an elder brother to the Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Internal Affairs, Mr Boniface Nyaakor.
The governor prayed that those conniving with enemies of the state to execute clandestine agenda against the people be put to shame.
According to him, “those plotting evil against this administration would always come behind, because I know that prayers from the church have helped in saving democracy from its enemies in the state. From January to August 2018, close to 50 security operatives had fallen prey to activities of militia herdsmen.”
The governor, in condoling with the family, prayed God to grant them the fortitude to bear the loss and the deceased, eternal rest.
Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Internal Affairs, Mr Boniface Nyaakor, on behalf of the family, expressed appreciation to the governor for standing by them in their moment of grief.
In a funeral mass, Reverend Father Peter Pareghve charged Christians to prepare for the Day of Judgment and describing death as inevitable.
Meanwhile, Governor Ortom has called on people of the state to arm themselves with Permanent Voter Cards and resist the invasion of Benue land by herdsmen under the guise of grazing.
Ortom gave the charge at NKST Church Iortyer while declaring open a one-day ministers’ retreat, organised by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
He advised the church to be vigilant and stop the plan of “the enemies” to impose leaders on the state with a view to “having a smooth ride in the implementation of their agenda.”
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The governor recognised the complementary role of the church in securing the land through prayers during the external aggression that characterised the enactment and implementation of Benue’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law.
He told the congregation that attacks were still ongoing in some parts of the state.
“Two weeks ago, three persons were abducted by enemies of the state in Guma and were held hostage for a number of days before they were released with a message to him (Ortom) that since he had made a law against open grazing, there would be no farming in Benue State.
“It is laughable that the whole cattle causing unrest in Nigeria were less than 20 million, whereas in some countries, there are over 200 million herds of cattle yet the countries practise ranch without hitches,” the governor said.
He said some of his colleagues in the North who admired his courage and tenacity in resisting impunity had assured him of prayers in support of the ranching revolution.
In his opening remarks, the state chairman of CAN, Reverend Akpen Leva, said the retreat with the theme, “If As One People Speaking the Same Language They Have Begun to Do This, Then Nothing They Plan to Do Will Be Impossible for Them,” was meant to strengthen the already existing unity among churches and pray for peace in the state.
The CAN chairman commended clerics for their perseverance in the midst of attacks by external aggressors.
Reverend Leva said the church in Nigeria was under serious threat and charged Christians across the country to pray against the “dangerous trend.”
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