As a result of dwindling state resources to feed the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Benue State, some of the IDPs have turned to petty thieves that steal food from people’s farms.
Benue State governor Samuel Ortom disclosed that the IDPs in Guma local government where he hailed from had been stealing from his rice, yam and cassava farms as well as other people’s farms to survive hunger, saying the assistance of donor agencies would help to halt the trend.
The governor who disclosed this when he received the head of governance and security, British High Commission, Samuel Waldock at Government House, Makurdi said his administration has worked tirelessly in the past six years to improve security across the state by granting amnesty to militant groups.
Ortom also told the British High Commission that his consistent advocacy for peace, fairness and equity in Nigeria was for the federal government to live up to its responsibility by tackling the problem of herdsmen, banditry and other crimes.
The governor also reiterated his administration’s willingness to partner with the British Government in order to improve security around farming communities and create public awareness on conflict resolution and peace building initiatives.
According to the governor, “We have enacted the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law which was the collective decision of Benue people taken through legislative processes by the Benue State House of Assembly which seek to minimize the causes of conflict between farmers and herders as well as protection to both farmers and herders.
“We have also reviewed, through the legislative process, the Community Volunteer Guards law enacted in 2000 to enable the Volunteer Guards to bear legal arms to assist the conventional security operatives in the state. This amendment to the law has been recently signed into law by me,” he said.
Ortom emphasised that insecurity has remained an intractable challenge bedeviling the state despite the efforts of his administration to promote peaceful coexistence and secure the lives and properties of Benue people.
The governor also appealed to local and international donor agencies to increase their activities in Benue and North Central who are the worst hit by insecurity to alleviate the plight of the IDPs.
He commended the British High Commission for always lending a voice against suppression and assisting communities around the world to be economically stable.
Earlier, the head of governance and security, British High Commission Samuel Waldock said they were in the state to have first-hand information about the security issue confronting the state and how they can partner to ensure peace.