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Benue Deputy governor, Abounu fires Ebonyi governor for politicising boundary crisis

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Deputy governor of Benue State, Engr. Benson Abounu said, he was rude shock that Ebonyi State governor, Engr David Umahi in outbursts
deliberately attempted to destroy the fraternal relationship between the governments and people of the two States.

He said, Umahi’s utterances with regards to killings in Benue communities on the border with Ebonyi State was unbecoming of a Chief Security Officer of a State.

Ebonyi Umahi in his comment has vowed to deploy his citizens to protect Benue citizens, suggesting that Benue State government has failed to protect her own people.

The read in full: “The holder of an exalted position of State Governor ought not only be cautious in his public utterances, but should also ensure that he is properly informed on any issue before going public. In the case of the killing in Benue communities on the border between our state and Ebonyi, His Excellency Governor David Umahi got it all wrong.

“It seems clear to me that Governor Umahi never watched the TV programme, where I spoke on the unfortunate attack. For if he did, he wouldn’t have made the misleading statements and come after me and the entire Benue State Government in such an unpalatable manner.

“At no point did I say that we in Benue State found it difficult to determine whether the victims of the attack are either from Benue State or from Ebonyi State. We knew from the onset that the killings took place in Benue State, and that all the victims were indigenes of our State. The Chairman of Ado local government council, Chief James Oche reported the attack soon after it happened, and our Security Adviser immediately put all security measures in place.

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“What I said was that, when soldiers from Operation Whirlstroke were sent to the area on Sunday, same day of the attack, they couldn’t access the troubled spot in order to see the bodies of the victims due to the conflicting signals they were getting on the ground concerning the location of where they were; whether it was in Benue State or Ebonyi State. With the memory of the Killing of 12 soldiers by a local militia in Konshisha local government area still fresh in everyone’s mind, the soldiers pulled back, not wanting to be caught in a trap.

“It is also important to note that soldiers that came in from Ebonyi State faced the same dilemma, as they were also told that where they were was in Benue State, and they, therefore had to withdraw.

“The issue of security is too sensitive for anyone to play politics with. We found it rather unfortunate, Governor Umahi’s tagging of Benue State indigenes as indigenes of Ebonyi State, and inflammatory, his boast that “we are going to send our youths to that place (Benue State) to go and protect the people over there, it doesn’t matter who own them, the most important thing is to protect their lives.

“Where in the constitution or any of Nigeria’s laws is a Governor permitted to deploy indigenes of his state to provide security in another state?

“We don’t know what makes His Excellency Governor Umahi think he has the powers to unleash “youths” from Ebonyi into Benue State to come and carry out his bidding. We hope he is not trying to ignite another conflict, which outcome, no one can foretell. His utterances and actions in recent times have created more tension along the volatile Benue/Ebonyi interstate boundary, and we are worried that the Chief Security Officer of a state could act and speak in such manner.

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“Where were Governor Umahi’s security forces when IPOB issued a sit-at-home order which was largely complied with in his state? Or was he not the Governor of Ebony State during that period?

It is crystal clear that Governor Umahi is not well informed about this issue. If he were, he would have known that Benue State has its own vigilante group called the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards, which is backed by legislation enacted in the year 2000.

We have taken note of Governor Umahi’s plans to assist communities in Benue State with large concentration of “Ebonyi indigenous people” to set up their own security outfit similar to Ebubeagu to enable them protect themselves. We hope he truly knows his limits, and that what he said was only a joke.

“It is necessary to point out that the Ezza/Effium crisis in Ebonyi State, which has now snowballed into Benue State with thousands of refugees from Ebonyi State taking shelter in Ado local government of Benue State, and the refugees taking up arms against each other has not been resolved by the Ebonyi State Government.

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Is Egedegede in Ishelu local government area, where 25 innocent Ebonyi indigenes were killed by Fulani herdsmen in March this year in Benue State? Where was Governor Umahi’s security outfit? Is Umogudu-Akpu in Ohaukwu local government area, where some 15 Ebonyians were killed by the same Fulani herdsmen on Monday, April 12, 2021 also in Benue State? Where was the protection? Now, what makes His Excellency Governor Umahi think that he can achieve in Benue what he couldn’t do in his state?

“It is important to state that the Benue State Government has never shirked its responsibility of providing the best it can for the people of the state, regardless of their status as indigenes or non-indigenes.

“We find it rather ridiculous that Governor Umahi still refers to Izzi people, some of who he says have been living in Benue State for over 100 years indigenes of Ebonyi State.

“It is pertinent to let the world know that following the unfortunate incident, I, Benue State Deputy Governor, Engr. Benson Abounu visited the area on Tuesday, 1st June, 2021 to sympathise with the victims and assist them overcome the problems of their displacement. That those injured in the attack were taken to Abakaliki, which is closer to the communities than Makurdi does not translate to a lack of commitment to the welfare of the people by the Benue State Government.

“It is important for both Benue and Ebonyi State Governments to work in synergy at all times to collectively confront the problems that face the people of our two states.”

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