Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has foreclosed any form of negotiation or amnesty for the bandits and armed men perpetrating violent crimes and killings in Logo, Ukum, and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas, LGAs also known as the Sankera axis of the state.
He regretted that intelligence report indicated that some members of the communities were supporting the criminal elements making it difficult for security agencies to clampdown on them assuring that his administration would put an end to their activities.
The Governor made the declaration Saturday in Anyiin, Logo LGA during the burial ceremony of Chief Terkura Suswam, elder brother of Senator Gabriel Suswam, who was assassinated two weeks ago by unknown armed men near his country home in Anyiin.
He said, “for us as a government, we have declared war against the young men who are perpetrating these evil acts. We are going after them, no more amnesty and no more negotiations. Except they come back like the prodigal son which the priest referred to in his homily.
“If they come back today and renounce their evil acts and ask for forgiveness promising not to carry arms against their own people, that would help us reflect on the story of the prodigal son in the bible and embrace them.
“But they must show that truly they have completely withdrawn from criminality otherwise we will go after them and it does not matter how long it will take but I want to assure the youths not just in Sankera axis but the entire Benue state, that we will go after those of them that have taken to criminality and we will get them.
“Even the Priest quoted the Bible, the Quran, and the Constitution to buttress the point that the ongoing criminality cannot be allowed. Our constitution does not allow it, it is the law that protects everyone and ensures that even a governor does not act arbitrarily.
“So every one of us, the leaders, chiefs and the youth must learn to respect the law because that is the only way we can ensure equity, fairness, and justice in the system.
“Chief Terkura Suswam was a great man, it is unfortunate that he had to die this way while struggling to bring peace, prosperity, economic and human development to his community. It is unfortunate that he died struggling to better the lot of his people.
“My challenge and pain are that considering the manner he was killed many people will no longer be interested in going back to their villages to invest like he did if this is what they will get.
“I feel so sad about this but I want to encourage as many that have the capacity to invest in the villages to do so because that is the only way we can take our youths off the streets.
“The communities themselves must make themselves available and support us in the quest to restore normalcy.
Let them support us with information. We need everyone to stand up against these acts because it will not benefit anyone, it will not benefit the society and it will not take us anywhere.”
Earlier in his homily, the Vicar General, Catholic Dioceses of Katsina-Ala, Rev. Father Godwin Bagu lamented the state of insecurity in Sankera and appealed to the youths to end the killings, saying “what have we gained from the brutal murder of our brothers and sisters? How has the massive killings of our brothers and sisters solved our problems?” He asked.