The Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Monday disclosed that over 5,138 persons have lost their lives to armed herdsmen incursions in the state in the last seven years.
The Executive Secretary of Benue SEMA, Dr Emmanuel Shior made this known in Makurdi while briefing the media on the activities of the agency and the humanitarian challenges it was contending with.
Dr Shior lamented that the incursions which had also forced over two million Benue farmers out of their ancestral homes had “left the state grappling with the worst humanitarian crisis ever witnessed in this part of the country.
“The attacks have led to the death of over 5,138 persons from 2015 that Governor Samuel Ortom took over the reins of power in the state till date; this is the figure we have though many of the killings were unreported and we are still counting. Besides over two million persons are currently held up in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps across the state with most of them living in dire conditions but unfortunately, the All Progressives Congress, APC, led Federal Government turned deaf ears to what is happening in Benue.
“It is sad that even the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has not deemed it necessary to visit Benue or give enough attention to the situation we have in the state as she is doing in the Northern parts of the country, knowing fully well that our IDPs are living in dire conditions. If not for the regular intervention of Governor Samuel Ortom-led administration, the humanitarian situation would have gone beyond what we are facing presently.
“That is the manner we are being treated under this APC-led Federal Government, that is why I am appalled by the recent comment of the Benue State APC gubernatorial candidate, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia who accused SEMA under my watch and the state government of mismanaging the situation and the intervention.
“While I would not want to join issues with a Priest I would, however, want to make it known to the world that the APC governorship candidate has never for once visited these traumatised IDPs nor has he ever reached out to them. The same applies to APC leaders in the state.
“I challenge APC governorship candidate and their leaders to emulate others by supporting our suffering IDPs and not throw mud on political rivals when you lack the knowledge of the humanitarian crisis in your state because you do not care about the dire condition of the people you are aspiring to govern only to make careless statements to score a cheap political point.
“That is why we must continue to commend Governor Ortom for his resolute stand for the people of Benue despite all the threats to his life and his being denied support from the Federal Government because he chose to stand with the people and gave them a ranching law to ensure the security of lives and properties of everyone but the APC led Federal Government refused to support the law because the lives of Benue people do not matter.
“Benue people can only reward this Ortom’s uncommon posture by supporting and voting for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate, Titus Uba who will carry on with the quest to ensure the security of the lives and properties of our people as well as improve the wellbeing of everyone in Benue state.”