Benue Gov  Solicits for Naval Base in Benue to Stop Criminals

George Okoh in Makurdi

The Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, has called for the establishment of a naval base in the state to boost security.

Alia said that the establishment of a naval base would foster closer collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies operating in Benue.

He made the call said in a statement that was issued by his Principal Special Assistant on Print Media, Mr. Donald Kumun, that River Benue is one of the two major inland waterways in Nigeria running from the Nigerian-Cameroon Border to its confluence with River Niger at Lokoja.

Alia made the request for a Nigerian Navy Type ‘A’ Operation Base in Makurdi during his visit to the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, in Abuja yesterday.

The governor lamented over the security challenges confronting the state, saying that many communities are under siege, people are living in fear and threatened by criminal elements, particularly armed herders and bandits.

He said that criminals are exploiting the absence of security along the Benue waterways to infiltrate and perpetrate heinous crimes against defenseless innocent residents

”The situation demands urgent action, and it is in this spirit of urgency that I am here to appeal to the Nigerian Navy to consider establishing a Type “A” Operational Base in Makurdi, Benue State, along the River Benue.

“Such a strategic move is not just a necessity, but a moral imperative to safeguard the lives and properties of our citizens and to restore peace and security to our communities.”

He said that the river, though an inland waterway, is critical to Nigeria’s drive towards maximising her Blue Economy potentials and enhancing national development.

He added that an enhanced security along River Benue and the adjoining coastal communities and waterways is critical to achieving the developmental aspiration. 

The governor lamented that the security situation along the river and its adjoining communities has largely remained volatile due to the absence of operational naval presence along the river.

He said: “Bandits have been exploiting the absence of security along the waterways to infiltrate and kill defenseless innocent civilians in Benue State without any resistance. 

“For instance, in April last year, no fewer than 400 innocent civilians were reportedly killed by bandits across Benue State in the space of three weeks.

“Most of these attacks occurred because the bandits exploited the absence of naval presence along the waterways to attack adjoining coastal communities in Logo, Guma, Katsina-Ala and Agatu LGAs of Benue State.

“Benue State, with its extensive network of waterways, has become a fertile ground for criminal activities. These criminals, emboldened by the lack of security presence along our rivers, roam freely, spreading terror and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. It is time for us to take a stand and say enough is enough.

“By establishing a naval base in Makurdi, the Nigerian Navy would not only assert its commitment to protecting the lives of Nigerians, but also send a clear message to these criminal elements that their reign of terror will no longer be tolerated.

“The presence of a naval base would serve as a formidable deterrent, disrupting the activities of criminals and restoring a sense of security to our communities.”

Responding, the Chief of Naval Staff appreciated the governor for the visit and thanked him for providing land for them for smooth operation in the state, and assured him of his visit and support to tackle the insecurity challenges in the state.

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