Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Bothered by the rise in armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, rape and other criminal activities in their land, the Shitile people of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State have pleaded with Governor Samuel Ortom to grant amnesty to repentant criminals in the State, and in Shitile land in particular.
They made the appeal during a peace meeting held at Tor Donga, the headquarters of Shitile, Katsina-Ala Local Government Area, to find a lasting solution to the incessant criminal incidents in the area.
At the meeting, which was authorised by Governor Ortom, stakeholders agreed that those who will benefit from such an amnesty must be ready to surrender arms and embrace the Governor’s offer.
Prominent sons and daughters of the Shitile nation including Hon Mzenda Iho, Ambassador Chive Kaave, Hon Jonathan Agbidyeh, Rt Hon Ianna Jato, Hon Jonathan Lahave, Dr Peteru Inunduh, Hon Augustine Avaan, Hon Dickson Orlu Powa, Barr Sekulla Nyior and DCG Denen Akaa (retd) attended the meeting.
Other key stakeholders at the meeting were Hon Terfa Atoza, Sir Stephen Orsule, Elder Francis Zaaya, Chief Joseph Awua, Hon Alfred Iorpav, Reverend Father Bernard Asogo, Reverend Pastor Gabriel Kyagh, Chief (Tyoor) John Kuji and Chief (Tyoor) Joseph Shimagande Ordolugh.
In a statement signed by Jonathan Agbidyeh, a lawmaker representing Shitile Constituency at the Benue State House of Assembly, stakeholders condemned in strong terms the criminal acts in the area, suing for peace and unity among all Shitile sons and daughters.
‘We also sought an end to the criminal cases in our land. It was observed that there are other suspected criminals operating in Shitile land and its environs who are not of Shitile extraction. The stakeholders asked such criminal visitors to vacate their land immediately,’ the statement read.
‘It was gathered at the meeting that many innocent persons in the area, including travellers, have been gruesomely killed and their properties and cash plundered by these hoodlums.
‘Even Shitile people who are their brothers/parents are not spared. Our local markets can no longer function effectively. The social and economic lives of all of us have been negatively affected by these heinous crimes.’
According to the statement, stakeholders are to hold indoor talks with the youth for the purpose of curtailing criminal acts in the area, for lasting peace to prevail.
Agbidyeh recalled that Governor Ortom’s amnesty programme started yielding fruitful results during his first term and the people were living relatively peacefully in their land before the scheme was scuttled.
He explained that the Shitile stakeholders, in a communique signed by 20 prominent members of the land, also tendered an apology to the Governor for the crimes of their children.
‘They pledged their unalloyed and unflinching loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Samuel Ortom and Hon Alfred Avalumun Atera, who is the Chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government Council.
Agbidyeh added that the Shitile community at the meeting, also set up a committee to spearhead the implementation of the peacebuilding programme.
‘The committee is mandated to communicate, in writing, the resolutions of the meeting to Governor Ortom, the Tor Tiv HRH Prof James Ayatse, Sen Gabriel Torwua Suswam and Hon Alfred Avalumun Atera, Executive Chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government Council.
‘The stakeholders pledged to support the Governor’s peace/security programmes, given the fact that peace is the prerequisite for development,’ the State ended.