From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
Benue state government has said that no amount of blackmail will stop the Benue Community Volunteer Guards (BCVG) from combating criminality in the state.
Governor Samuel Ortom stated this while reacting to the alleged petitioning of the Presidency and security agencies by a human right group in Benue urging them to investigate the activities of the Volunteer Guards for being used to hunt political enemies, particularly by the Executive Chairman of Ado Local Government Area (LGA).
Ortom, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser Security Matters, Lt Col Paul Hemba (retd), debunked the allegation describing it as an “uninformed allegation, false, misleading and a desperate attempt to smear the character and essence of the Benue Community Volunteer Guards, which must be resisted confrontationally.”
He explained that the Benue state Community Volunteer Guards is a formation of law; the establishment law which began with the approval of the State Security Council and duly passed into law by the Benue State House of Assembly.
“It was also assented to by the state governor. The modus operandi of the Guards allows them to assist conventional security agencies in combating criminality as they are not under the control and caprice of local government chairmen.”
He acknowledged that some LGAs, particularly Ado, have in recent times suffered a plethora of security challenges leading to the death of many and the destruction of properties worth hundreds of millions of naira.
He noted that most recently and specifically, on the 8th and 9th of November, 2022, over 30 persons were killed in communities within Ado LG, a tragedy that prompted all security agencies to undertake a manhunt on the culprits in the course of which suspects were arrested and handed over to the police.
He reiterated that no person can stop security agencies from exercising their constitutional responsibility of investigating criminality saying “Culpability or innocence can only be established by diligent investigation.”
“We state further that, the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards are not under the control of any Local Government and have not in any way been used to witch-hunt the phantom political enemies as alleged by the briefcase human rights group.
“Those arrested and handed over to the police should cooperate with the police in the course of investigation which will establish their innocence or the contrary. The idea of generating frivolous petitions to blackmail constituted authorities to shield suspects of crime is unacceptable and even the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria frowns at the brewing security challenges within the country,” he said
The governor warned those in the lifestyle of blackmail to desist forthwith from playing politics with issues bothering security as according to him, it is unreasonable and unfathomable to ever imagine that the Guards’ painstakingly established will be for the mere purpose of hunting political enemies.
The state government reaffirmed its commitment to fighting criminality and will not, under any guise be blackmailed or stampeded into giving a deaf ear to issues of insecurity as they affect the welfare of the people of the state.