The Benue State governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, has charged the people of Benue South senatorial district to be vigilant over security issues within their area.
Governor gave the charge Sunday, February 12th, 2023 during a Thanksgiving Mass in honour of the state commissioner for housing and urban development, Chief Ekpe Ogbu, held at St Paul’s Catholic Parish, Utonkon, in Ado local government area.
Chief Ogbu was kidnapped December 4th, 2022 by Fulani terrorists a few kilometers away from his village with his driver and two others.
Governor Ortom said in view of the looming insecurity in the state, there was the need for collective efforts to tackle the challenge, emphasising that, “The people of Zone C must stand up and support the government to resist the invasion of our communities by Fulani herdsmen terrorists.”
The governor insisted that communities must take their destiny into their hands, stressing that, “Everybody must be vigilant and acquire legal weapons prescribed by law to wade off the invaders.”
He said those responsible for the kidnap of Chief Ogbu had been arrested and were facing prosecution.
Governor Ortom also stated that he would soon meet with the Idoma Area Traditional Council to review the security situation in the area in order to map out strategies to curtail the situation.
Ortom maintained that no one will stop him from speaking out against the atrocities perpetrated against the people of the state by Fulani terrorists, stressing that the society was too advanced for the crude approach deployed by the invaders whose sole agenda was to take over Benue ancestral lands.
He encouraged the people to sustain their support to security agencies posted to their area to enable them to perform their duties.
The governor stressed that the Community Volunteer Guards was to support community policing and urged the people to report any suspicious movements around their communities.
Governor Ortom described Chief Ogbu as a “great son of Idomaland, a man who fears God and believes in equity, fairness and justice”, noting that he has stood with him in his political journey and has never disappointed him.
He commended Chief Ogbu as a model and appreciated the community for supporting him, noting that they have had a cordial working relationship.
On the appeal by the celebrant over the state of Government College, Utonkon, the governor said the state government will liaise with the management of Benue State University with the view to making the college an outside campus of the university and directed the commissioner to initiate a memo for the upgrade some blocks at the institution as a first step.
Chief Ogbu said the celebration was to express gratitude to God for sparing him from the ordeal of the kidnappers, saying he was alive by the grace of God.
He recounted that he and his family had enjoyed numerous blessings from God, including his appointment as the first cabinet member from the Ufia community courtesy of Governor Ortom’s magnanimity.
Chief Ogbu had earlier drawn the attention of the governor to the plight of Government College, Utonkon, and appealed to the governor to give the institution a facelift for the benefit of the community.
Paramount ruler of Idoma nation, Och’Idoma, His Royal Majesty, John Elaigwu Odogbo who also attended thanksgiving Mass, prayed God to continue to preserve Chief Ogbu, calling on his subjects to be vigilant for the security of the domain and sued for sustained unity amongst Idoma people to defeat the common enemy, adding that with unity, a lot could be achieved.
Earlier in a homily, the parish priest, Rev Fr John Ogoyi, who is also the dean of Utonkon Deanery, proclaimed that the choices one makes in life will determine his or her destiny, stating that God has placed the choices of life and death for Christians and expects the faithful to choose life.
The Catholic cleric stressed the importance of thanksgiving, which he noted that a heart of gratitude attracts more blessings from God.
Governor Ortom was later dressed in the traditional regalia of Ufia people as a mark of honour by the Ad’Ado, HRH, Chief Joseph Onazi, in appreciation of the appointments given to their sons and daughters in his administration.