Benue State governor Samuel Ortom has reiterated that his administration has not raised any militia as speculated in some quarters.
Governor Ortom however accused those making such allegations as enemies of the state that have taken sides with oppressors of Benue in order to protect their meal tickets.
The governor spoke yesterday when he received the chairman Middlebelt Brain Trust, MBT and former chief of defence staff, retired General Martin Luther Agwai and his delegation at Government House Makurdi during courtesy visit.
The minister of special duties and intergovernmental affairs, Senator George Akume on August 30, 2021 at a press conference in Abuja accused the Ortom-led administration of raising an army in the state, which he claimed had stockpiled arms.
Ortom maintained that he has never contemplated raising any militia for any reason. He lamented that Benue people are going through a lot of pains in the hands of herdsmen militia, which the presidency is aware that Fulani militia were brought from other countries into Nigeria with the sole purpose of taking over the land.
He stated that the testimony by the former chief of defence staff that some members of his delegation could not make it to Makurdi confirmed the security situation in Benue occasioned by militia herdsmen that had obstructed movement on the Makurdi-Lafia road.
The governor expressed worry that despite the long stay of internally displaced persons in various camps, no meaningful intervention had come from the federal government as it is done in other states of the country.
The governor explained that the main occupation of Benue people is farming but they have been forced out of their homes for years by the pastoralists and life has become unbearable for them with no option.
Governor Ortom described the former chief of defence staff who had also served as the chief of army staff as an experienced military officer whose experience on security and peace building is critical to the development of Nigeria.
He pledged the support of his administration to any genuine process that would lead to peace in Benue and Nigeria at large.
In a remark, General Agwai (rtd) explained that he was in the state to meet with the governor and stakeholders in order to have firsthand information on the cause of the crises after which views would be collated and recommendations made for necessary action.
He stated that MBT was a 16-member apolitical group affiliated with the Institute for Integrated Transition, Barcelona, Spain working in all the states of the North Central and has taken upon itself to traverse the region to find a lasting solution to the crisis.’