By Amos Aar, Makurdi
FOLLOWING renewed attacks on Benue communities by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen, stakeholders from across the state on Thursday called for the enforcement of an existing legislation which was enacted 21 years ago in 2000.
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, who briefed journalists after an expanded stakeholders meeting held at Government House, Makurdi said “the attacks had overstretched conventional security agencies in the state” hence the need to lawfully recruit and empower the vigilante to complement efforts of the security agencies.
“We have looked at the Benue situation and we decided to change the narrative and no other person can do that except ourselves.”
He said the unanimous decision of the stakeholders to mandate the state government to recruit more members into the vigilante and support them with logistics was in line with the provisions of the 2000 law known as “Establishment of Community Volunteer Guards also known as Vigilante and for the Purposes Connected therewith” to help contend with the incessant attacks on Benue communities.
Governor Ortom added that stakeholders had resolved to recruit more volunteer guards across all the kindreds, districts and local government areas of the state and to empower them to carry arms permitted by law for protection of territorial integrity of the state.
The stakeholders, he said, expressed their commitment and full support of Benue people towards enforcement of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017. They urged all stakeholders irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations to join hands in tackling insecurity in the state.
They commended security operatives for their efforts in ensuring relative peace and security in parts of the state affected by banditry, abductions and herders attacks.