By Ben Sylvester
The Benue State Security Council, Wednesday, restricted the operations of commercial motorcycles, also known as Okada, in the state.
Our correspondent gathered that okada operations would now be from 6am to 8pm everyday until further notice.
The security council took the decision after its emergency meeting in Makurdi.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Governor Ortom said the earlier outright ban on the use of motorcycles in the Sankera geopolitical zone comprising Katsina-Ala, Logo and Ukum still subsists.
He said the decision followed the recent security alarm raised by the Nasarawa State government and what is happening in Abuja, and other parts of the country.
The governor said the decision to restrict the activities of commercial motorcycles was aimed at nipping in the bud the resurgence of criminal elements suspected to be moving into the state.
The governor said the security agencies in the state had been mandated to enforce the new regulations, saying stiff penalties such as arrest and prosecution awaited anyone found flouting the order.
The security council also resolved that all heavy-duty vehicles coming into the state, with covered tarpaulins, would be searched at designated checkpoints along routes in and out of the state with the contents thoroughly checked before being allowed to pass.
Ortom said the 500 personnel of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards, which will be formally launched tomorrow, would complement conventional security agencies in the state.
“They have been trained and kitted with additional five hundred expected to begin training next week,” he said.
The governor, who said the guards would work with the traditional rulers and other security agencies in fighting crimes, expressed optimism that being members of the communities, it would be easier for them to fish out criminals.
Governor Ortom said the council also approved a committee headed by the SSG, Professor Tony Ijohor, to work towards regulating the activities of miners, which he said, had been causing environmental hazards.
Members of the committee include the commissioner for lands and solid minerals, Hon Bernard Unenge; attorney general and commissioner for justice, Barrister Micheal Gusah, and the adviser on mining, Andrew Kputu, as well as the chairmen and second class chiefs of Gboko, Kwande, Ogbadibo and Logo as members.
On the controversial Water Resources Bill reintroduced in the National Assembly, Governor Ortom said Benue State had never supported it and would continue to reject it.
In his words, “We rejected it before. We still reject that bill, which is another way of bringing in RUGA, Cattle Colony and Open Grazing.
“Benue State is not party to that and we, therefore, demand apologies from those linking us to that bill.”