Benue Governor appears before Senate over herdsmen crisis

Ortom was accused of hiring a militia to confront the killer-herdsmen in defence of the state and its people.

Ortom is appearing before the joint Senate Committee on Police Affairs; and National Security and Intelligence.

He is being questioned, especially  on his indictment by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, over his alleged culpability in the security crisis in the state.

Ortom was accused of arming a group of Benue residents to confront the killer-herdsmen in defence of the state and its people.

But the Governor, who had repeatedly said the security agencies in the country have failed to protect Benue people from the herdsmen attacks, denied employing a militia to combat the killers.

Hired militia

Last Sunday, the Nigerian Army paraded some nine men before the media - the suspects were arrested in Taraba State with five AK-47 rifles, claiming that they were employed and armed by the Benue State Government.

The military said the men were apprehended by troops from 93 Battalion, Takum at a border village called Arufu in Wukari Local Government of Taraba State after they had crossed from Benue.

The suspects initially told the authorities that they were 60 in number in their own camp, located across the boundary at Gbeyi, Benue State.

"However, further investigation revealed that they were more than 1,000 at the camp, while over 700 of them bear arms," a military source told journalists after the arrest.

The suspects told interrogators that the Benue government was paying them "a monthly stipend of N15,000."

They added that they were being owed close to five months of salaries at the time of their arrest.

Over 100 people have been killed in Benue in the first seven days of this year alone following clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state.

On January 11, the state held a mass burial for 71 victims of the herdsmen violence.

President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the police IG to relocate to Benue and work together with other security agencies to curtail the violence.

But the security measures have not the yielded desired results as deadly attacks continue to take place in Benue villages.

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