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Land dispute: Benue government suspends traditional rulers, set up panel

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Benue State Security Council on Monday suspended three traditional rulers in connection with violent disputes over land in Ushongo and Gwer East Local Government Areas of the state.


Governor Samuel Ortom, who announced the decision while briefing journalists after an expanded meeting of the Council, said two district heads from Gwer East, Chief Peter Ikyum of Ishough and Chief Ager Kuhe of Mbasombo, as well as a kindred head from Ushongo were affected by the suspension.


The Governor stated that a high powered panel headed by Tor Kwande, Chief Ambrose Iyortyer and supported by Tor Sankera, Chief Abu King Shuluwa as well as second class chiefs from Ushongo, Buruku, Mbakor and the Secretary, Tiv Traditional Council would look into the remote and immediate causes of the clashes between Mbasombo and Ishough districts.

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He said:  “Council also asked the Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse to set up a committee to probe the veracity or otherwise of the allegations leveled against the suspended traditional rulers and recommend appropriate sanctions.


The Governor stated:  “that an elder, Abagena Ityav had been identified to be behind criminal activities in Gwer East and security agencies were directed to interrogate and prosecute him, if found culpable.”


On the lingering crisis at Ityo-Mu, Makurdi Local Government, Govenor Ortom said Council had restructured the earlier committee headed by Secretary to the State Government, Professor Anthony Ijohor, SAN, to include other members and remove those suspected to have vested interests, in order to find lasting solution to the crisis.

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Those included on the committee according to the Governor are Tor Kwande, TorJechira, Tor Gwer, Tor Lobi and Ter Makurdi. Others are Security Adviser to the Governor, Commissioners for Land and Justice as well as Permanent Secretary Bureau of Internal Affairs who doubles as Secretary of the Committee.


Governor Ortom stated that Security Council discovered criminal elements behind the crisis between Ukum and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas and urged security agencies to go after the perpetrators, even as he noted that Council commended the peaceful disposition of people of the two local government areas.

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He acknowledged the support of security agencies in the enforcement and implementation of the ranching law of the state and the fight against crime.


The Governor called on Benue people to be their brothers’ keepers and employ dialogue in resolving disputes, stressing that at this moment when COVID-19 is ravaging the globe and threatening the economy, the need to look inward by exploring agriculture to produce food for consumption and commercial purposes was imperative for all.

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