Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State on Tuesday refuted claims by his counterpart in Benue State, Samuel Ortom that killer herdsmen on a killing spree in the state (Benue) are camped in Nasarawa State.
Ortom had after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Villa on Tuesday told State House correspondents that the killer herdsmen under the aegis of the Miyetti Allah cattle breeders are from neighbouring Nasarawa State.
Ortom said the anti-open grazing law, which his administration signed into law last year had brought peace, until the herdsmen attacks.
“And since we started the implementation, there has been relative peace among farmers and herdsmen; they were doing well until this militia coming from this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, came and attacked us. And they are known, we know where they are. As I talk to you they are in Tongua in Awe local government that is where these people are camped and coming to attack people” he added.
But Al-Makura swiftly denied the allegation, saying his state was not harbouring the killer-herdsmen.
He said: “I’m really taken aback; this statement is most unfortunate. I will like to use this opportunity to say that there is nothing like that whatsoever. If anything, the Tonga that the governor is talking about in Awe Local Government is now the safe haven for displaced persons.
“As I speak with you today, there are more than three IDP camps in Awe local government that quarters and caters for the number of people that have migrated from Benue to Nasarawa.
“To be specific, they are more than 7,000 people that are camped in Tonga. So it’s very ironical that a place that is supposed to be an area that has become a safe haven for IDPs can now be called where militias are camped.
“In that case, the militia don’t need to go as far as Benue. They have the prey within the vicinity of Tonga to attack. I think this is most unfortunate.” he said
He added: “Yesterday, we held over seven hours of rigorous interfacing with seven governors, service chiefs and some ministers and all our security operatives within the states and around Benue, and my colleague could not tell me this, he could not approach me and give me an idea if there is anything that he saw or is worried about.
“I feel what should be of concern to us as leaders is the plight of the people and any of such statement that is inflammatory is likely going to cause more confusion to what is already there.
“As it is, it is the implementation of the anti-grazing law in Benue that has caused the problem and now Nasarawa State is being infected by the problem notwithstanding that we are being our brothers’ keepers and good neigbhours.
“I had to cut short my leave and come to find ways of helping my colleague. We have called all our security to meet to find ways and means of helping Benue and if all efforts we have done and with all the relief materials we have given and the protection to the IDPs that were created, that certain parts of Nasarawa State can now be stigmatised with this allegations is to say the least most unfortunate.”
Al-Makura added: “We will still continue to render whatever assistance that we can give to the IDPs from Benue because we have some Tiv people that live in Nasarawa in virtually all the three or four local governments that share boundary with Benue State, we are duty bound as a responsible administration to cater for all.
“And the Tonga he is talking about is a town within three states, that is Goa in Benue, Shanda, Ibi and there is River Benue besides them. So, anybody can fly through the River to go and attack in Benue. And don’t forget the obscurity of the wilderness and is very porous and anybody can move from any part to any place to attack any place.
“So, as far as I am concerned, it is unfortunate there is nobody keeping anybody anywhere in Nasarawa State.”