Bonta-Ukpute: Group blames Ortom for crisis escalation

… Urges Igede appointees to resign from cabinet

Benue State Governor, Sameul Ortom and his aides from Konshisha axis should be held responsible for the escalation of the Bonta-Ukpute conflict that has claimed lives and property worth hundreds of millions of naira.

A group under the auspices of Igede Professionals (AIMPs) which made the assertion argued in a press statement issued on Wednesday that if the governor had not been egged on by his aides to ignore our patriotic suggestions to handle the crisis decisively, the enormity of loss of lives and property would have been minimized.

“Since last year when the crisis erupted, we have been mounting pressure on Governor Samuel Ortom to resolve the issues at the centre of the dispute; namely, boundary demarcation, with a view to putting an enduring end to the frequent clashes over land dispute by the Bonta and Ukpute communities.

“Only about a fortnight ago while empathizing with him over an alleged assassination attempt on his life, we reminded the governor to spare a thought for the people of the two communities had been facing untold hardships due to the lingering communal war.

“Unfortunately, our suggestions have fallen on deaf ears, or at best had attracted name-calling by the governor’s aide preferred to see us as a faceless group,” AIMPs alleged in the statement.

The statement signed by its President, Egena Ode, added: “Accordingly, for not caring enough about the lives of our people have been slaughtered in their hundreds, their houses burnt down and farm produce destroyed, especially following the renewed attacks that have continued unabated in the past six weeks, we are calling on all appointees of Igede extraction in Governor Ortom’s cabinet to pull out with immediate effect.”

Reacting to reports of soldiers allegedly abducted or shot at by “Bonta Boys”, a miilitia group on Monday while on routine patrol in the area as part of overall peace keeping in the region, the group said:
“We face an existential threat whose enormity has now been brought to the fore by the treatment given to the soldiers on patrol along the Ukpute-Bonta road. This has simply revealed the fire we have been facing as a people over time.”

The group, however, commended the Chief of Staff Lt-General Attahiru Ibrahim and Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) for ” the uncommon discipline, professionalism, sacrifice, and dispassionateness exhibited by the soldiers on peaceful patrol even in the face of grievous provocation and threat to their lives by the militia”.

It urges elites from both sides to reach out to one another especially in the absence of any viable leadership in the state, as mutual understanding, justice and development of the area are key to lasting peace.

The group also called on the Chief of Staff for the immediate establishment of a military post between Ukpute and Bonta in order to forestall another wave of massacre, arson and mass displacements.

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