The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris has apologized to the people of Benue State for referring to the recent herdsmen attacks on the state in which 73 people were killed and many villages sacked as communal clashes.
Idris, who arrived Benue this morning (Wednesday), while addressing a town hall meeting at the new banquet hall of the Government House in Makurdi, said he was apologizing for the misconception of the statement which he made at a press conference in Abuja stressing that all he was trying to do was to convey a message that all Nigerians should be able to live together in peace.
“I apologize (to the Benue people) for the misconception of the statement I made at a press conference in Abuja. I was only trying to convey a message that Nigerians should live together in peace. As policemen, we try to avoid divisive statements.”
Earlier, speaker after speaker had criticised the IGP for describing the herdsmen attacks on Benue communities as mere communal clashes, insisting that it was nothing short of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Some of the speakers – including Chief Edward Ujege representing the three Socio cultural groups, Terrence Kwaghnongu representing the youths and Mrs. Rebecca Apedzan representing the women – insisted that only the military, and not the police, can curtail the herdsmen attacks in Benue.
In their remarks, Prof. Daniel Saror, Justice Utsaha and Chief John Anteyin representing the three senatorial zones of the state, all rejected the proposed cattle colony, insisting that ranching remained the only solution to herdsmen/farmers clashes in line with the global best practices.
Also speaking, Josephine Habba (CSOs), Rev. Fr. Solomon Mfa (clergy) and Chief Benson Ogairo (security expert), while alleging that a lot of killings of Tiv people were going on unreported in Nasarawa State, maintained that if President Buhari would not personally come to commiserate with the people of Benue at this critical moment he should not bother to come for their votes in 2019.
On their part, the paramount ruler of the Tiv nation, HRM, Tor Tiv James Ayatse, and the Speaker, House of Assembly, Terkimbi Ikyange, noted that what is going on in the state is not about the anti-open grazing law enacted in the state but about an ethnic cleansing agenda.
The Tor Tiv who posited that the heartless destruction of lives and property in the state must stop particularly appealed to the IGP to ensure that any agenda to wipe out the Benue people is immediately aborted.
Governor Samuel Ortom at the meeting, who described the attack as very painful, disclosed that 73 dead victims of the attack would be buried on Thursday, stressing that there is no going back on the anti-open grazing law.