Ukpute/Bonta Crisis: Igede Youths Release Final Decision.
The lingering crisis between Ukpute Community of Igede kingdom and the Bonta community of Tiv land is no more a news. With the recent attack on the Igede people claiming several lives and over 50 houses burnt, the Igede youths have unanimously come together formidably with the following resolutions in a World Press Conference held on 23rd July, 2021 in Makurdi.
INCESSANT BONTA MILITIAS ATTACKS ON UKPUTE (IGEDE) COMMUNITY: A CALL FOR URGENT MEASURES TO HALT THE SYSTEMATIC EXTERMINATION OF IGEDE PEOPLE AND TO ALLOW PEACE TO REIGN:
With heavy heart and utter state of despair we rise today as the Youths of Igede of Benue state to issue this press statement calling the attention of the Government and people of Nigeria, the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Right Organizations, the Nigerian and United Nations Security Agencies’ attention to the incessant, unprovoked killings of the Ukpute people of Igede of Oju Local Government Area by the Bonta Militias of the Konshihsa Local Government all in Benue State.
The current crisis started sometime in June, 2020 till today, 22nd July, 2021 with no end in sight. The concern authorities may recall that this crisis was the reason for the killing of 11 Soldiers and an Officer by Bonta Militias in April, 2021. Shortly after the burial of the slain soldiers, Bonta people/Militias resumed hostilities and are continuing with killing, maiming, looting and destruction of properties of the people of Ukpute of Igede in Oju L.G.A
Also Read: “How Over 50 Houses Were Burnt and a Traditional Ruler Killed in Igede Community”
On Tuesday 20th July, 2021 the crisis took another dimension when Bonta Militias attacked a neutral Igede speaking Community (Ochoro) in Konshisha Local Government Area. That community existed from pre-colonial times and was part of Konshisha at creation in 1976. It has never been part of the crisis and the only known reason for the attack is “they speak Igede language”. The Community Chief, Dennis Okpe Ijoko was gruesomely killed in his bathroom while he was bathing while several others were killed with some missing up till the time of this press Release
May it be known to the world that Ukpute is of Igede minority ethnic group, their Bonta counterpart is of Tiv, the majority nationality of Benue State. The attack on Ochoro community in Konshisha Local Government without prior provocation has confirmed our fears that this crisis may be the outplay of ethnic conspiracy and unrepentant resolve to drive our people out of Benue State. Our suspicions are further heightened by the behavior and attitudes of Governor Samuel Ortom over this crisis:
a) Since the outbreak of this crisis, the Governor is yet to visit the scene for on-the-spot assessment. He only visited Konshisha to assess the level of humanitarian challenges after the military invasion consequent of the massacre of the Nigerian Soldiers by Bonta militias.
b) We are aware that the Governor is in receipt of full brief on the excesses and violent attacks on Ukpute by Bonta Militias but, he did little or nothing to arrest the situation. Ukpute community wrote to him on this ugly situation. He received the letter on the 7th June, 2021, but he decided to keep mute and allow the killings go on; We have the copy of the acknowledged letter here.
c) The Governor through the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Engr Benson Abounu has convened so many fruitless meetings between the two warring communities without any pragmatic commitment. Severally, the government has promised a workable boundary demarcation between these communities. Unfortunately, beyond words, nothing is been done. It is even more disturbing to note that the Bonta community has encroached far beyond the buffer zone earlier carved out between the communities by the government.
d) While the militias are constantly killing and maiming our people without restraint, Dr. Samuel Ortom provided a motivation for sustained attacks on our people. He has been using all the paraphernalia of governance to intimidate any person or group of persons that dare criticize his poor handling of the crisis. A case in point is the one where he personally authored a petition to the Benue State Commissioner of Police against the President of the Association of Igede Media Professionals, Mr. Sunday Odeh EGENA; whom the Police has charged to court at the instance of the Governor.
e) The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the Ukpute and now Ochoro Communities are living under very hearse conditions including economic, Nutritional Insecurity and worsening healthy situations as a result of this Crisis without any form of support and assistance.
5. There is no doubt in our minds that His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom is not willing to put an end to the needless killings by the Bonta militias. It is on this account that we call President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the Nigerian and United Nations Security Agencies, the Amnesty International, Human Rights and other Humanitarian organizations, to come to our aid. We are peace loving, law abiding people; we have no other place to go; we are from Benue State, we are Nigerians; we do not have the military power to withstand the Bonta militias as they tend to be using some of the weapons collected from the slain soldiers. We need peace, we need protection; we are Igede, our lives matter.
On this note, we wish to humbly pray the Government and people of Nigeria, the relevant aforementioned organizations to come to our aide and do the following as such will arrest the ugly situation:
A. The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to:
I. Direct the urgent deployment of troops to the disputed boundary between Bonta and Ukpute as a short-term measure to save our lives;
II. Direct the establishment of a military post at the boundary between the two communities to forestall future reoccurrence of the unprovoked killing of our people by the ever-bloodthirsty Bonta community/militias;
III. Mandate the Governor to deploy all internal Security measures and ensure immediate re-opening of the Awajir-Oju Road.
B . Amnesty International, Human Rights and other Humanitarian Organizations to:
IV. To prevail on Government and people of Nigeria to come to our aide
V. Launch an investigation into these killings, maiming and destruction of our properties
VI. Comes to the rescue of the International Displaced Persons (IDPs) camping in different locations within Igede by providing shelter, Foods, health and other social and economic relief assistance to the IDPs.
C. We are calling on TIV Youth Organization to a dialogue table with the Igede Youth to enable reconcile and caution our youths, for we are the true future of Benue and we can’t build the Benue of our Dream through Killings and maiming.
HON. ADE JOSEPH OTOR
President, Adenu Union(AU)
President, Zone B Movement(ZBM)
President Oju II Unity Forum(O2UF)
Pres. Oyongo Progressive Forum(OPF)
EBONYI ONAHI MATTEW
Pres. Nat. Union of Igede Students(NUIS)
Pres. Oju L.G.A Township Youth(OLTA)
President Oju Unity Forum (OUF)
Pres. Ito Nat. Youth Forum (INYF)
COMR. OGBU DAVID
President, Igede Nat. Youth Council of Nigeria(INYCN)
IJI ANDERSON EGBODO
President, Igede Youth Council (IYC)
FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE IGEDE YOUTHS