George Okoh in Makurdi
The Benue State Government and some witnesses to the killing of two priests and 17 worshipers early in May this year have criticised attempt by member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Ameachi, to put the blames on the killings on the door step of the state government.
A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and ICT to Governor Samuel Ortom, Mr. Tahav Agerzua, said they watched with shock, the comments of Amaechi on Channels Television last Sunday, where he alleged that some Benue people were responsible for the killing of two Catholic priests and 17 worshippers in Mbalom, Gwer East Local Government Area of the state earlier this year.
The statement noted that from Ameachi’s statement, it is clear that the comments are a deliberate strategy sponsored by the APC-led federal government to change the true narrative on the Benue killings in general and those in Mbalom in particular.
The governor aide said it can be recalled that the APC National chairman, Adams Oshiomole, had also made similar claims.
Unfortunately for the APC stalwart, investigations and interviews conducted by reputable media organisations revealed without any doubts that the killers are Fulani herdsmen who were out on a conquest and occupy agenda of the Benue Valley and other territories in Nigeria.
According to Agerzua, “Two of these organisations, Al Jazeera and Television Continental (TVC), aired their findings on their respective stations on May 7 and August 20, 2018.
“These investigations and testimonies of the victims and witnesses debunk 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 has made 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 Ortom.”
He said it is clear that the objective of the minister was 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 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,” the governor media aide stated.