Governor Ortom said the government will go after those who have refused to surrender their weapons since an amnesty window has closed.
“The amnesty programme succeeded because more than 800 young people came out and surrendered. We have in our possession over 600 assorted weapons and ammunition that we collected from these young men,” the governor said.
“The last dispensation believed in violence. My predecessor and his cohorts believed they could take everything by force and they bought these arms and gave to young men. I am appealing to them to still return those arms.
“Now that the carrot approach of the amnesty programme is over, we will now adopt the stick approach. We are going to pursue them to their homes. Wherever they are, we are going to arrest them and prosecute them. We are going to go after them fully,” Mr. Ortom told state house journalists after a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Premium Times reports that the governor had last year announced amnesty and monetary reward for those who willingly submit their illegal arms in state that has seen spells of violence.
Last month, gunmen killed the governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Security, Denen Igbana.
“I cannot in any way surrender my state to criminals. I am going to fight them headlong. I am the governor of Benue State, I was duly elected and I have the backing of my people to fight criminals so that we can have a free society to build our economy,” the governor said.
Responding to criticisms on his new policy of declaring Fridays as work free in the state, the governor said he took the decision because of the farming season, to allow workers ample time on their farms.
“They are ignorant people. The programme is well received. Benue State has comparative advantage in agriculture.
“Now, we are finding it difficult to pay salaries. We are down by four months at the state level and five months at the local government level.
“Coming to a state that is more of civil service, I have said that I have declared Fridays as public holidays because this is cropping period. They should go to the farm between now and the end of July that is cropping period. This can help because no matter how little, whatever they contribute in agriculture will add value to the state economy.
“In any case, because there are no salaries, you know the morale of workers is even low. Apart from that, the money to prosecute good projects is not there.
“Even when you did not declare Friday, it is as good as they go there and still do nothing,” he said.
gunmen on Friday, May 20 killed Denen Igbana, the senior special assistant on security to Governor Ortom in Makurdi.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Igbana was killed in the early hours at his Tionsha residence.
Speaking during a sympathy visit to the family of the deceased, Mr. Ortom vowed that Igbana’s killers would never go unpunished.
He ordered investigation into the killing, assuring that anybody implicated in the killing would not be spared.
Ortom described the deceased as one of his most trusted and dependable appointees.
He disclosed that the deceased had intimated him that some people were threatening to kidnap him and that Mr. Igbana requested for funds to carry out perimeter fencing of his house.
Ortom said that Mr Igbana was instrumental to the sustenance of the amnesty programme in the state that led to the surrender of arms by criminal gangs.
The governor assured that the government would carry out discrete investigation on the killing to unravel the motif and people behind the act.
Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Paul Yakadi, said the police were already “nosing around to fish out possible suspects”.
The leader of Tionsha Community, Thomas Ayakpam, said the community was awakened at about 2:30am by gunshots.
He said after the gunshots died down, he heard the deceased pleading with his assailants to spare his life.
I heard him say: “So, Ghana, after all that that we have done together, you can look me in the face and kill me in this manner”.
Some sympathisers confirmed that they also heard gunshots and the altercation between Mr. Igbana and his killers.