From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has, for the umpteenth time, exonerated himself and the state government from the recent killings in Nasarawa.
Governor Ortom who described as mischievous, allegations linking his government to the killings from an air raid on a settlement in Nasarawa said neither him nor his government had a hand in the unfortunate incident.
Ortom, stated this on Sunday, during a Thanksgiving Mass for the official commissioning of a Parish House he built at Holy Cross Parish, Ogbolokuta, Ulayi in Ado Local Government Area.
He maintained that he did not order anyone to carry out such act, insisting that he has no such powers to order such an air raid operation which resulted in the killing of 43 persons.
He explained that contrary to the wrong narrative being peddled, it may have been as a result of intelligence gathered by the military high command.
The Governor who wondered why he would be linked to the incident, said it was pure mischief for anyone to attempt to rope him into what he had no knowledge of.
He also spoke on the hostilities between the people of Ezza community of Ado local government and their neighbouring Ebonyi State, saying he was working in collaboration with the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi to end the incessant conflict between the two brothers.
He disclosed that the peace meeting between the two state governments will be held in the area as a show of commitment to bring the crisis to a stop so that the people will return to their homes.
Governor Ortom who is the first governor of the State to have visited Ezza community since the creation of the state in 1976 told people that boundaries were meant for administrative convenience and not to divide the people.
According to him, the Ezza people, though Igbo speaking, were bonafide indigenes of Benue State and must be protected by the Government.
He also assured them that there was an ongoing process for the amendment of the chieftaincy law of the state, saying, “Ezza community must also be given the opportunity to lead their people” through the appointment of traditional rulers.
He directed the Chairman of Ado local government council, James Oche, to ensure presentation on the matter during public hearing for review of the chieftaincy law.
Governor Ortom urged the people who deserted their homes as a result of the hostilities to return to their places and be vigilant in reporting any security breach, assuring that able bodied young men from Ezza community will be drafted into the next batch of the State Community Volunteer Guards to help curb insecurity.
He commended the Parish Priest of Holy Cross Catholic Church Ogbolokuta, Rev. Fr Solomon Ujah and the Diocese of Otukpo for their resilience in helping to keep the Ezza community despite the several security challenges in the area.
Earlier in a homily, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo, Most Rev. Michael Ekwoyi Apochi encouraged the faithful to imbibe doing works of charity to fellow human beings, stating that doing so was to God Himself on which account entry into heaven will be determined.
The Parish Priest of Holy Cross Catholic Church Ogbolokuta, Rev. Fr. Solomon Alexander Ujah, expressed profound appreciation to Governor Ortom for building a Parish House for the Church and prayed to God to reward his sacrifice.
He also appealed to the Governor to further look into the challenges of the Ezza community, which he pointed out was ravaged by insecurity, lack of access road, as well as non-existence of a health facility.
A statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, said the Governor received the Diocesan Centenary Award in recognition of his sustained support for the growth of the Church.