X-Raying Ortom’s Illegal Arms Recovery Initiative | Independent Newspapers Limited
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X-Raying Ortom’s Illegal Arms Recovery Initiative

Posted: Jul 27, 2015 at 1:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Adah –  Lagos


In recent times,  Benue State has been under the siege of violent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and the local farmers in the state. Hundreds of human lives have been lost in the past few years when the clash took a dangerous dimension. Many displaced people of Agatu local government indigenes,  as a result of violent clash between farmers and the community are presently taking refuge in Omala local government area in Kogi State.

Ortom and Buratai

Ortom and Buratai

In order to reduce the frequent cases of violent confrontation in the state, the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom on assumption of office recently gave a deadline of three months for those in possession of illegal firearms to return them or face the wrath of government authorities.

The governor gave August ending as deadline for all such possessors of illegal arms to surrender them or risk arrest. He explained that possessors of all categories of illegal arms and ammunitions would be rewarded in accordance to the types of weapons they submit. The governor also said they would be reintegrated into the society upon the conclusion of rehabilitation programme.

“Starting from the day of my inauguration to the end of August 2015, all possessors of illegal arms and ammunitions in the state should please submit their arms or risked arrest. “Those with weapons such Ak47 and the likes shall receive N100, 000 upon submission of their weapons, automatic pistols N50, 000, locally-made long guns N20, 000 and locally-made pistols N10, 000, respectively. Also, we shall set up a rehabilitation programme for those who would willingly submit their arms for effective reintegration back into the society,’’ the statement declared.

Ortom’s illegal arms recovery initiative has received commendation from the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees, UNHRC. Country Representative

of the Commission, Angelle Atangana, who expressed the excitement when she visited the Governor at the Benue Peoples House in Makurdi, stated that if the initiative succeeds, it would curb the incidents of communal violence and reduce cases of internally displaced persons IDPs and refugees. “If the initiative succeeds it will curb the incidence of communal violence and reduce cases of internally displaced persons and refugees.”, she said.

Ortom who reiterated the determination of the present administration to maintain security of lives and property in the state  stated that as a demonstration of this commitment, he included N5 billion in a supplementary budget he submitted to the House of Assembly for approval to enable him pay counterpart funding demanded by the partners.

The governor’s commitment to issue of security in the state necessitated the decision the decision to grant amnesty to those willing to submit illegal arms as well as held meetings with relevant security operatives, among others.

According to him, at the end of the expiration of the amnesty on August 31, security agents would go after those who possess illegal arms and recover them. As the deadlines for the submission of deadline draws nearer, Daily Independent gathered that some youths have started complying with the directives and are submitting their weapons in the state.  According to a community leader in Gboko , Terna  Terseer  some people who are in possession of illegal firearms in the state have started returning them to the appropriate authority in the state.

He expressed optimism that before the August 31 deadline more people would surrender their firearms to the appropriate authority. He commended the governor for the new policy and expressed confidence that the new policy would reduce the proliferation of firearms in the state which has made the state very susceptible to attack every time. “I believe the governor has taken a good policy direction to rid the state of frequent violent clash,” he said.

Also speaking at a public forum recently, Ortom, disclosed that the amnesty he declared for those who possess arms illegally has started yielding results. He spoke at the Benue Peoples House where some of the arms which had been surrendered were displayed. Governor Ortom commended those who turned in the weapons and promised to integrate them into the community by empowering them to pursue legitimate means of livelihood.

According to him after the expiration of 31st August, the machinery he had set in motion would swing into action to recover illegal arms in the state.

While answering a question the Governor stated that his directive included all possessors of illegal arms including Fulani herdsmen. Security Adviser to the governor, Mr. Edwin Jando declared that more arms were being expected as the Governor’s call had come at the right time. He further stated that with the incentives announced by the governor many people in possession of firearms in the state would surrender their arms. Jando did not disclose whether the governor would extend the deadline after the expiration of August 31 initially announced by the governor.

The fear expressed by many people is how the government would be able to mop-up arms among Fulani herdsmen in the state who as a result of their advantage economic position were able to purchase large arms which they have used to attack indigenes of the state. Analysts doubt the ability of Fulani people to voluntarily surrender their weapons on or before the expiration of the deadline. Dr. Kelvin Abubakar  a political commentator who has been following Fulani insurgency in  north central stated that it would be an up heal task for Ortom to go after the Fulani herdsmen who have killed and destroyed  several homes in the region in the past few years.