By Martins Odeh
Abuja, Sept.15 The Conference of Benue Journalists (CBJ) on Sunday expressed satisfaction on President Muhammadu Buhari’s timely intervention to provide lasting solution to the age long communal violent clashes between the Jukun and Tiv people of Taraba.
Mr Anule Emmanuel, National President of the group expressed this delight in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja.
Anule said the group was impressed with President Muhammadu Buhari’s fatherly efforts to resolve the age long rift between the two ethnic groups.
Nigeria News Agency reports that CBJ is an association of professional media practitioners of Benue origin with membership spread across the country.
further reports that the association has a sole objective of promoting, projecting and defending the interests of the state and its peoples across the country.
“We are impressed with the president’s recent directive to the Governors of Benue and Taraba states, royal fathers, specifically the Tor Tiv and the Aku Uka of Wukari, religious and community leaders in the two states to immediately find solutions to the perennial crisis.
“We, therefore, align ourselves with the president and all well meaning citizens of the country in condemning in strong terms, the unacceptable wanton killings and destruction of property by the two tribes.
“This is a sad and barbaric act of brothers killing brothers.
“Recall that following the president’s directive, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha convened a meeting in Abuja on Sept. 4, between Governors Darius Ishaku of Taraba and Samuel Ortom of Benue and other key stakeholders from the two states.
“This was with the view to discussing long term and lasting solution to the deep-seated antagonistic relationship between the two ethnic groups in Taraba,’’ Anule said.
Anule however, noted that the stakeholder’s meeting, which held at the Yar’Adua Centre, in Abuja identified seven different issues which the Federal Government as an arbitrator, must seek to address.
The seven key issues to address were listed to include: criminality such as banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery as motivating factors sustaining the crisis.
Others included lack of clear boundary demarcation between the two states and that
the crisis remained purely the internal affairs of Taraba and not between Benue and Taraba.
The rest of the issues deserving of immediate attention were the economic and social implication of the violence leading to widespread displacement, losses which included lives and property.
reports that the seventh issue remains the fact the two warring tribes are desirous of peaceful co-existence.
Anule, therefore said it was imperative that the government sustained the intervention by setting up a workable template in line with the agreed seven issues to end the crisis forthwith.
“Non implementation of Agreements reached in the past from the Kashimbila to the last one held in Makurdi have fuelled the crisis,’’ Anule said.
Anule also said: “as we offer condolences to the two communities for losses incurred as a result of the crisis, we enjoin the government of Benue and Taraba, to show commitment in the implementation of all agreements reached in the Abuja stakeholders’ meeting.
“The violence between these two major tribes in the Benue Valley would continue to make progress and development impossible, if left to linger on.
“Although the intervention by president Buhari may have come late, it is still commendable being a positive step towards addressing this crisis.
“We stress that the negative impact of this persistent violence on the social and economic life of the people which is incalculable, is real and heavy. Government must therefore not allow this crisis to fester’’.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
COVID-19: Benue govt. lifts ban on religious gathering
Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue on Wednesday lifted the ban on religious gatherings as a result of COVID-19.
Ortom, who announced the lifting of the ban while briefing newsmen in Makurdi, said Church and Mosque services could now hold in the state beginning from Wednesday.
The governor, however, stressed that the duration of service should not be more than one hour.
“The Churches and Mosques are to hold standard services to accommodate fewer people.
“Social distancing must be observed in all religious gatherings. Wearing of face masks is mandatory for all.
“There must be water and soap for washing of hands. Also, alcohol based hand sanitisers must be kept for use by the people.
“We are going to monitor what is happening in Churches and Mosques,” he said.
He further said markets could open, but with strict observance of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocol.
“Here too, we will monitor as well to ensure compliance.
“Burials and other ceremonies should not have more than 30 persons at a time.
“Inter State border travels still remain closed except for transportation of essential services,” he said.
He said civil servants from grade levels one to 12 in the state who were staying at home due to COVID-19 would resume work on June 8.
“They are advised to observe all the preventive measures of COVID-19 while carrying out their duties.
“All schools remain closed. We appreciate Benue people for their understanding and substantial compliance to all their directives,” the governor said.
Benue LG polls: PDP Chairman says party’s victory not a surprise
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue, Mr John Ngbede, said the party’s overwhelming victory at the council polls on May 30 didn’t come to him as a surprise.
Ngbede disclosed this in an interview with newsmen on Monday in Makurdi.
The party won 23 Chairmanship positions out of 23. Also, it won 276 Councillorship positions out of 276.
The chairman noted that the party deserved the landslide victory because it worked assiduously for it, which manifested on Saturday.
“We campaigned seriously without relenting. No political party in the state campaigned apart from PDP.
“We followed all the processes of election beginning with the congresses.
“Some political parties did not buy forms. Even the ones that bought forms they did not campaign at all. So, what did they expect,” he queried.
He also said that Benue residents voted massively for the party 8because Gov. Samuel Ortom was performing wonders for the state.
“The milestones recorded by the governor went a long way in winning votes for the party.
“He has completed a lot of projects which were started by his predecessor.
“He also initiated new ones and some of them have been completed while others are on the verge of completion and others ongoing,” Ngbede said.
PDP sweeps Benue LG polls
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has won all the electoral positions contested in the Local Government Council polls held on May 30 in Benue.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the elections were conducted in 23 local government councils across 276 council wards of the state.
The elections, which were adjudged by a team of election observers led by Ibrahim Sheka from Kano, as having low turn out, featured five political parties.
The five parties were; Social Democratic Party (SDP), Accord Party (AP), Africa Action Congress (AAC), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while the main opposition political party, the APC boycotted the exercise.
Loko commended the BSIEC officials for the smooth conduct of the polls and directed all elected chairmen and councilors to report to the commissions office in Makurdi on June 1, for their Certificates of Return.
Edited By: Philip Dzeremo and Abdullahi Yusuf (NAN)
Benue LG polls: Observers attribute low turn out to COVID-19
Sheka told newsmen on Saturday in Makurdi after monitoring the elections in some parts of Makurdi town, that the conduct was smooth but blamed the poor turnout on the fear of COVID-19.
Sheka lauded officials of the electoral umpire and the electorate for observing COVID-19 rules.
Also speaking after the monitoring exercise, the Chairman, Benue State Independent Electoral Council (BSIEC), Mr Joseph Loko, commended the electorate for orderliness during the polls.
Loko also commended BISEC officials for the “smooth conduct of Local Government Election in the state”.
Loko said collation of results would soon begin and expressed optimism that there would be no commotion at the end.
“So far, there has been no incidence of violence anywhere,” he said.
He also attributed voters apathy to palpable fears of COVID-19.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the polls did not hold in most designated polling units within and outside Makurdi, the state capital.
NAN reports that markets, including business outlets, were opened within the voting hours and no restriction placed on vehicular movement.
Edited By: Philip Dzeremo/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
Benue LG polls: Gov. Ortom votes, urges voters to leave after voting
Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue has advised people who turned out to vote in the state Local Government Council elections on Saturday to leave the polling units as soon as they voted to guard against the spread of Covid-19.
Ortom gave the advice on Saturday in Gbajimba, headquarters of Guma Local Government Area of the state after casting his vote at the LGEA Primary School polling unit, Gbajimba.
“Vote and leave in order to give room for other electorate to also exercise their franchise.
“The Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) has directed that in order to guard against the spread of Covid-19 only 30 electorate will be allowed at the polling units at a time.
“So, if you vote, you have to leave to allow others too to come and vote.
“I have the confidence that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will win overwhelmingly because in most of the local government areas, the candidates are unopposed.
Meanwhile, correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria who monitored the polls in Makurdi, Kwande, parts of Gboko and Gwer Local Government Councils report that the polls were marred by voter apathy.
NAN reports that the polls had not commenced in any of the polling units within Makurdi metropolis as at 12 noon.
At Kanshio Primary School polling unit, located in the suburb of Makurdi,electoral officials were seen conducting the polls.
An electoral officer, Ms Priscilla Ikyer, in charge of the unit, lamented the absence of voting materials especially, ink pad, ballot boxes and stamp.
An aide to Gov. Ortom, Mr Orngu Anngu, who also voted at the unit, commended the officials for ” the peaceful and professional manner the election is being conducted”.
He also commended security officials for securing the polling unit and assured that his party would win overwhelmingly.
Orngu, however, regretted that polling unit officials were not properly kitted against Covid-19.
” They are not wearing face masks and other protective kits,” he said.
At Ikpayongo market, an accredited PDP agent in Mbasombo ward, Mr Terfa Uleve, who was cited wearing the party’s tag while displaying his wares at the market, alleged that “since there is no election, I returned to the market to sell my wares.
Reacting to the non availability of electoral materials, the Public Relations Officer of the Benue Independent Electoral Commission (BISEC), Ms Mavis Toryem, said the commission would address its shortcomings.
Edited By: Abdullahi Yusuf (NAN)
Police deploy 5,200 personnel for LG polls in Benue
Nigeria Police Command in Benue said it had deployed 5,200 personnel for Saturday, May 30 Local Government Elections in the state.
Anene said that in spite of the council polls, the 8p.m to 6a.m national curfew for COVID-19, still stands in the state.
She explained that voting would begin from 8a.m and end by 6p.m on Saturday.
She said that the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Mukaddas Garba, has assured the electorate of adequate security of lives and property during and after the polls.
Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Felix Ajide (NAN)
EFCC arrest Benue vigilante commandant over alleged N449.5m fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested Mr George Mbessey, the Commandant, Benue State Vigilante Group (BSVG), following a petition over alleged conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of N449.5 million public funds.
The EFCC Makurdi Zonal Office Head of Media and Publicity, Mr Dele Oyewale said in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeira on Friday in Makurdi.
According to Oyewale, Mbessey was arrested by operatives of the EFCC on Wednesday in Makurdi.
”The petitioners state that the BSVG receives its official funding of N20 million monthly directly from the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs through official account.
“Between October 2018 and May 2020, the suspect allegedly collected funds meant for the group to the tune of N449.5 million, using personal account.
”An act they claim did not follow due process, hence, the petition to the EFCC,” the commission spokesperson said.
He further disclosed that the suspect has already volunteered useful information to the commission and would be arraigned in court as soon as investigation was concluded.
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
LGA polls in Benue, Police deploys 5,200 personnel
The Police Command in Benue has deployed 5,200 officers for the May 30 local government council polls in the state.
“As a result, we liaise with other security agencies and raised 5,200 personnel for the election.
“They will man the polling units and streets from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
“The restriction of movement from 8:00p.m. to 6:00a.m. as a result of COVID-19 still stands.
“The restriction of movement has not changed.
“The command will give Personal Protective Equipment to the personnel deployed for the election,” she said.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
APC to boycott Benue councils poll
The All Progressive Congress (APC) says it will not participate in the May 30 local government councils election in Benue.
Mr James Orngunga the state acting APC Publicity Secretary said this in a statement in Makurdi on Friday.
“This is to inform the general public that the APC is not party to the kangaroo local government election which is already programmed to handpick and declare all PDP candidates winners.
“Our party was prepared for the election and submitted a list of validly nominated candidates but unfortunately, the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission(BSIEC) acting the script of the State Government declared all our candidates as not properly nominated hence, disqualified.
“The matter is still in court but we have been excluded and APC shall not feature on the ballot tomorrow for any position,” he said.
He further called on party supporters in the state not to waste their time going to vote because the process lacked credibility.
“We also urge all APC candidates who were illegally disqualified not to express any regret as those who won chairmanship and councillorship elections in the state since 2017 are still owed various shades of allowances till date.
“Our party is regrouping and strategising for victory in 2023 and shall not be deterred by every ill- treatment accorded us this moment,” he said.
The last council poll in the state was held in 2017 and the two year tenure of the elected officials expired in June 2019.
Edited By: Benson Iziama/ Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
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