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The Benue State government has reacted to the statement of the Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi who said that the Benue people killed two Catholic priests and 17 worshippers in Mbalom in Gwer East Local Government Area of the state.
The transport minister was answering questions on a programme on Channels Television on Sunday when he made the statement.
But the Benue Governor in a statement through his Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Chief Tahav Agerzua, described the statement of Amaechi as unfortunate and an attempt from the APC to hid the truth from Nigerians. He said that it has been the strategy of the APC all along as they are liars. He also said of the chairman of the APC Oshiomole saying the same thing Amaechi said.
The Benue Governor was quoted as saying: “Unfortunately for both APC stalwarts, investigations and interviews conducted by reputable media organisations revealed, without any doubts, that the killers are Fulani herdsmen militia out on a conquest and occupation agenda of the Benue Valley and other territories in Nigeria.
“Two of these organisations, Al-Jazeera and Television Continental (TVC), aired their findings on their stations on May 7 and August 20.
“These investigations and testimonies of the victims and witnesses debunk Mr Amaechi’s statements regarding the murder of the Mbalom 19 as not only false but also reckless, mindless and a shameful dance on the graves of the victims.
“Curiously, this is not the first time that a Minister of the Federal Government had made a mockery of Benue people with inflammatory statements bordering on herdsmen attacks and killings in the state.
“Amaechi, after stating categorically that the Mbalom 19 were killed by their own people, failed to provide any evidence to back his claim but rather went on to allege that some of the suspects arrested in connection with the killings were working with Governor Samuel Ortom.
“It is, therefore, clear that the objective of the minister is to smear the governor’s reputation.
“Amaechi apparently forgot that one of those accused of complicity in the Mbalom murder was recently released from detention without arraignment and any proof to link Governor Ortom with the murders.
“However, whoever murdered the priests and the other worshippers as well as carried out any other killings in Benue State and anywhere in Nigeria, it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to fish out and bring them to book.”
“That the agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria have shirked their responsibility and rather embarked on a deliberate effort to change the narrative indicates that they are accomplices.
“More so that Fulani leaders, including Garus Gololo, claimed responsibility for the Benue attacks and killings, citing justification for rustled cattle; yet, none of them has been arrested and prosecuted.
“Amaechi’s unguarded comments on the unfortunate incident in Mbalom bring to mind earlier statements by the Minister of Defence and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), who described the herdsmen invasion and killing of Benue people as a ‘mere communal clash’.
“We wonder why those occupying sensitive positions in the current Federal Government have chosen to play games with the lives of Nigerians. How committed and sincere are such persons in their advice to the President, if they can’t hide their biases on issues affecting ordinary people?
“We expect Amaechi to publicly prove his allegation on the Mbalom killings or retract his comments and tender a public apology to families of the victims as well as the government and people of Benue State.”