By Amos Aar
THE Benue State Security Council (SSC) has ordered traditional rulers and other stakeholders in Konshisha LGA of the state to ensure that arms seized by the militia in the area were found and unconditionally released.
Governor Samuel Ortom stated this Tuesday at Government House Makurdi after an expanded State Security Council meeting with stakeholders from Konshisha LGA where 11 soldiers
and a captain were recently killed while on a peacekeeping mission in the conflict between warring communities of Bonta in Konshisha LGA and Ukpute in Oju LGA of the state.
Governor Ortom, who said the SSC strongly condemned the killing of the soldiers by the militia, also cautioned the people to refrain from making inflammatory statements in order not to worsen the situation, stating that the government and security agencies should be allowed to handle the issue.
Ortom expresses the Council’s condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief of Army Staff and families of the slain soldiers, stressing that six people were confirmed dead in the military’s search operation that followed the killing of the soldiers contrary to the earlier figure he gave that 8 people lost their lives.
He said the wrong figure was based on the briefing he received from stakeholders in the affected area.
While insisting that those who killed the soldiers must he arrested and prosecuted, Ortom stated that the Security Council reiterated that in order to end the land dispute, there must be boundary demarcation between Okpute and Bonta communities as soon as possible.
He further stated that the Council appreciated the military for accepting the pleas from the state government not to further escalate the destruction of lives and property of innocent citizens in the affected communities of Konshisha LGA.
He equally appreciated traditional rulers and other stakeholders for ensuring that some of the arms were returned and urged them to do more for the recovery of all the seized weapons.
While responding to questions from journalists, Ortom said he did not receive reports before the incident that people were using military uniform to attack Bonta people and it was not on record anywhere.
He also maintained that 70 lives were not lost during military reprisals as alleged and challenged anyone with evidence like names of those killed to produce it.
He disclosed that the Benue State Emergency Management Agency had already been directed to look into the plight of the displaced people with a view to alleviating it.
The slain soldiers and an officer were buried at the military cemetery in Makurdi on Monday, 12th April, 2021.