Cede community to Ebonyi if you can’t protect our indigenes, Umahi tells Benue
Governor of Ebonyi state, David Umahi has asked his counterpart in Benue state, Ortom to cede an ‘attacked’ community in the state to Ebonyi for allegedly not protecting Ebonyi indigenes in the state.
Umahi also described the killing of Ebonyi and Benue indigenes by suspected herdsmen at the boundary between both states as a wicked and satanic act.
This request was made by the Ebonyi governor when he visited victims of the attack at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital (AEFUTHA).
The governor said if the Benue government cannot protect the people because they are not indigenes, it should cede the area to Ebonyi to enable the state government to move in and protect the people.
“If they want to belong to Ebonyi, let Benue people allow them so that we can get that place and protect their lives. They will fail to protect them and still pretend that the place is in Benue State.
“So, I challenge them to make a pronouncement that the place doesn’t belong to them and find out whether any herder has the ability and capability to attack them,” Umahi said.
He promised to treat all the victims and shelter them till order is restored in the area.
He directed that a committee be set up, headed by the House of Assembly Speaker, to see to the welfare of the victims till they are discharged and returned to the community.
Over 30 persons were killed in the attacks which occurred on Saturday. Locals said the death toll is over 50.
The governor said he could not understand the raping of little children by the killer-herdsmen.
“What I saw this afternoon is nothing but an act of wickedness and Satanism.
“I do not know for any reason why people should be raping two years old children, putting knives on one-year-old children, killing mothers, killing fathers, for what reason?” he said.
The governor faulted Benue Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu for allegedly saying that the Benue government was yet to ascertain the identity of the victims.
Umahi advised the deputy governor to stop playing politics with such a delicate matter that involve lives.
“What worries me so much is that the Deputy Governor of Benue State came on air to say that they don’t know whether these people are from Benue or Ebonyi. That is the height of irresponsibility.
“We know that we have boundary problems with Benue but we have a buffer zone and this place is not within the buffer zone. These people are residents of Benue, paying their taxes in Benue, having facilities, everything in Benue.”
The governor said despite being Ebonyi indigenes, the Benue government was obligated to protect them.
Umahi also urged the people of Benue to form their vigilante to secure themselves and stop blaming President Muhammadu Bihari.
He promised to assist the communities in Benue with a large concentration of Ebonyi indigenous people to set up a security outfit similar to Ebube Agå.
“It is important that the people of Benue should form their own Ebube Agu to protect their people instead of blaming Mr President. He cannot be everywhere,” he said.
Umahi warned criminal elements to stay away from Ebonyi.
“Anybody with Ak-47, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you come to Ebonyi, you must be fought to a standstill.
“Enough of this madness; it is sheer madness. This kind of wickedness can bring a curse upon a nation; it’s not acceptable,” he said.
Terver Akase, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom, directed our correspondent to the Deputy Governor for the state’s reaction to Umahi’s allegations.
Ogaba Ede, Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, when contacted on phone, said: “We are on the road. I will check the story first.”
He was yet to respond as of press time.
The victims’ identity had been in contention since the incident.
Our correspondent gathered that though the communities are geographically located in Benue, they are mostly Izzi-speaking people.
Izzi is a dialect and clan in Ebonyi.
The affected communities were said to have been wrongly placed under Benue during state creation and has been a source of dispute between both states.
The victims were rushed to AEFUTHA for treatment due to the closeness of the communities to Abakaliki, the state capital.