By Deji Elumoye
Benue state governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, has justified his recent call on federal government to allow Nigerians to carry arms saying this will serve as defence in the wake of the growing insecurity in the country.
The governor, who spoke in Abuja at the weekend, therefore, asked the federal government to seriously consider his earlier call that Nigerians should be allowed to carry arms as a way to arrest the rising level of insecurity in the country.
Ortom said notwithstanding criticism that trailed his recent call on government to license Nigerians to carry arms as a form of self defence, he still stands by his submission and urged the federal government not to take his advice with a pinch of the salt.
He said: “This is a suggestion that the federal government should take up seriously because in America people are licensed to carry sophisticated weapons but life is still going on. It is left for the Federal Government to look at it if my suggestion can be carried but for me, I still stand with my suggestion.
“I heard people complaining that Ortom called for Nigerians to be allowed to carry sophisticated weapons and that it would bring about anarchy. What about the Fulani herdsmen who are carrying AK-47 rifles and kidnapping innocent Nigerians, raping our women and destroying our villages and towns and becoming a terror to us. How about they? Why can’t we collect these sophisticated weapons from them? How many of them have been arrested? I am aware that some have been apprehended but majority of them are still there with those AK-47.”
He explained that the state’s share of the N13.5 billion approved by the federal government for community policing in the country will be used to train personnel of its local Vigilante group.
The governor stressed that the state had so far recruited the necessary personnel for the take off of its Vigilante body in all the 276 wards in the state.
According to him, what is left is for the security personnel to be trained adding that the federal government vote for community policing will come in handy for this purpose.
His words: “Already we have done the recruitment from all the 276 wards, so I think the next thing is for the training to take place. I believe that the N13.5billion that was approved will support the logistics of training these people, otherwise we had undertaken that the local governments and states will jointly see how they can provide stipends so that these people will report to the police and support the police but they will work hand in hand with Vigilante Groups”.
Commenting further on community policing, he explained that “this is a policy that all the North Central state Governors and the Inspector General of Police met sometime ago and we jointly agreed to augment the capacity and the strength of the Nigeria police, we need to do something that will arise from the community to support the police. So it is a policy that we engaged the rural people and government is told to find ways of giving them stipends but the police will train these recruits”.
On the issue of herdsmen, the governor stated that the state government had taken decisive steps which has yielded positive result including arrest and prosecution of a sizeable number.
His words: “We have arrested about 400 herdsmen and some are not even Fulanis but majority of them are Fulanis and we have prosecuted them. Today we have convicted more than 130 herdsmen who are already serving various jail terms and some have paid fines. We have arrested over 9000 cattle but as the law stipulates, once you pay fine we release them to you and you transport them. You no longer go on foot with those cattle within Benue state.
“The issue of foreign herdsmen coming, I am happy that the Inspector General of Police some few days ago did say that these herdsmen are not Nigerians. That is what I said about 2-3 years ago. I knew it. I am not a security expert but as Governor I receive briefing and I was able to do my independent investigation and know that these people are coming for an agenda, Nigerians must wake up. If we don’t wake up we will all be consumed”, Ortom said.