Benue Killings: IGP Blames Anti-Grazing Law

  • Display of corpses, inciting statements, causing further tension

By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris has blamed the anti-open grazing law implemented by the Benue State Government as the genesis of the crises which claimed at least 73 lives in Logo and Guma local government areas of the state early in the New Year.

He also noted that the open display of the casualties of the attacks, inciting statements by the Governor Samuel Ortom, and the arming of militia groups in the state, were causing renewed tension. 

Idris said these yesterday when he met with the Senate Committee on Police Affairs to brief them on his level of compliance with the Senate directive to apprehend the perpetrators of the Benue attacks and hand them over to the state Attorney General for prosecution. 

The meeting which lasted for two hours was held behind closed doors. 

Idris was accompanied to the meeting by some officers including the Force Public Relations Officer, Moshood Jimoh.

A member of the committee, who spoke off record with THISDAY, provided some details of the IGP’s submission before the Senator Abu Ibrahim-led committee 

Idris, the senator said, chronicled events from the beginning of the attacks and noted that almost 150 persons had so far been arrested with most of the suspects already charged to court.  

Investigation to determine the level of culpability of those that have not been charged to court, was ongoing, Idris said. 

The source further disclosed that Idris recommended that the state should suspend its anti-open grazing law, pending when it would provide ranches for the herdsmen, and then gradually reintroduce the implementation of the law. 

“He also advocated that cattle routes be re-opened, in addition to disarming armed militia groups and dialogue among all stakeholders,” the source said. 

The IGP, according to the senator, presented several pictures to the committee, including those of some bodies and of suspects that had been arrested with arms and ammunition. 

The senator was however unable to ascertain whether the Senate at plenary would be satisfied with the presentation of the IGP and the committee’s report, or would summon him to appear at plenary. 

“Remember that the resolution said he would be summoned to brief the Senate at plenary next Tuesday if our committee’s report is not satisfactory.  I cannot say for now if it is satisfactory or not.

“He just briefed us on what they have done and are doing to restore normalcy. We would meet further to consider his submission and write our report,” the senator said. 

On January 14, 2018, the Senate had issued a two week ultimatum to Idris to apprehend the attackers. He was summoned at the expiration of the ultimatum to brief on his level of compliance with the resolution.