The youths of Benue state have added their voice to the call on the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to tender unreserved public apologies to the people of the state over his recent comments on Governor Samuel Ortom as well as his supposed sympathy message over the Gbeji killings.
The youths on the platform of Benue Youth Forum, BYF, in a media briefing Thursday in Makurdi by the National President, Terrence Kuanum also urged the Tiv Traditional Council, TTC, to monitor the utterances of the PDP presidential flagbearer as it relates to killings in the state for possible review of the high honorific traditional title of Zege Mule U Tiv conferred on him by the Tiv people.
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Kuanum recalled with resentment the statement made by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar at the Arewa Joint Committee event in Kaduna where he reportedly said he was very angry with Governor Ortom “for profiling Fulanis as bandits and terrorists because I am also Fulani” as well as his supposed remark while sympathising with the victims of the armed herdsmen attack in Gbeji Ukum LGA that claimed 39 lives which he was reported to have attributed to “clashes between farmers and herders.”
According to the BYF National President “that the PDP presidential candidate tagged the dastardly killing of children, women and the aged in their communities as ‘escalation of inter-communal violence’ clearly heightens the suspicion as to his level of insensitivity in the incessant attacks on Benue communities.
“Equally sad is the comment by Alhaji Atiku which suggests that the killings in Benue state were occasioned by lack of inclusion and integration of people into ‘communities where they live, work, pay taxes and raise their children.’
Alhaji Atiku’s veiled comment on the massacre in Ukum and indeed other parts of Benue is coming barely a week after he openly declared his hatred for Governor Ortom for standing firm to ensure that the people are not wiped out and their lands annexed by invaders.
His loud silence over the massive killings of unarmed and innocent Benue people because they refuse to surrender their land for cattle grazing was suspect.
And now that he has come out to express how bad he feels that Governor Ortom has been resilient in ensuring that his (Ortom’s) people are not wiped out of the face of the earth by his kinsmen finally confirm that the man who is privileged to be the holder of the title of ‘Zege Mule u Tiv’ is not really ‘the shadow under which the Tiv people can seek refuge.’
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“The BYF therefore calls on Alhaji Atiku to exhibit his acclaimed love for the Tiv people by condemning the act carried out by the Fulani militia if indeed he is sincere to himself.
“The Forum also wants the PDP Presidential standard bearer who presents himself as a ‘unifier’ to come out clear on his plans and strategy to tackle the incessant killing of people in Benue if elected or forget the votes of Benue people in next year’s elections.
“We demand nothing short of a genuine and sincere commitment from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that he will turn a new leaf and show that he is not in any way disposed to condoning the madness being perpetrated by terrorists and bandits especially in Benue if he becomes the president.
“The BYF therefore commends Governor Ortom for the good work he is doing to protect the people and encourages him not to be deterred by the antics of those who do not wish Benue well.