Threat to security in Benue state posed by the activities of some hardened criminals has taken a new dimension with the recent attack on courts where case files were carted away. In this report, HEMBADOON ORSAR dissects the attack and its implication in the face of the amnesty programme of Governor Samuel Ortom.
In Benue state, criminal activities such as assassinations, political killings, cultism and armed robbery attacks are at the moment, gradually gaining grounds especially at the satellite communities within the Makurdi metropolis such as North Bank, Wadata, Gyado Villa, Nyorigyungu among others; these are in spite of all the security measures put in place by the varied security agencies in the state.
Our reporter gathered that residents of these affected areas are not finding life easy with men of the underworld. The residents claimed that the visibility of the police in Makurdi is only aimed at extorting money from commercial motorcycle riders and town service buses.
Indeed, the rise in wave of criminal activities and the recent attacks on three courts in the state has continued to engender calls from different quarters with many urging the security agencies to step up the pace of their work.
It would be recalled that the inception of his administration, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state instituted amnesty programme, which he said was aimed at giving the youths with previous records of crime and other people in the state, a chance to repent from their past heinous acts and as well that those in possession of illegal weapons to surrender them so they can be rehabilitated and re-integrated into the society. The aim was to make those in possession of illegal arms surrender same and hence live meaningful and useful lives.
The programme which was in two faces as it adopted both the carrot and sticks approach, witnessed the recovery of over 600 illegal arms and dangerous weapons all of which were recently destroyed in Makurdi.
While some people have been commending the governor on the initiative to tackle criminality in the state, others are of the view that the amnesty programme initiated by the governor was a mere way of destabilizing and arbitrarily arresting youths in the state instead of engaging them in meaningful ventures hence the continued crime.
Perhaps, some say the present economic recession and the teeming unemployed youths in the society has left no one in doubt about the increasing crime wave in the state. While the nation’s economy continued to dwindle, it has become a gimmick for some people to use the hardship to recruit some unemployed youth to carryout hatchet jobs such as robbery and assassination of political opponents who they think are threats to their political ambitions.
It must not be forgotten that the tremendous efforts of the AIG police zone 4, Agboola Oshodi Glover who on assumption of office initiated series of security meetings with heads of security chiefs in the zone to chat a way forward on how to tackle insecurity confronting the zone and several initiatives like the training of Special Anti-robbery Squad SARS on Human Rights and police Citizens Relations, is a step in the right direction.
Also, the Benue State commissioner of police, Bashir Makama, has not rested on his oars to fight criminality in the state as he introduced visibility policing that raised dust from the nook and crannies of the state. He held series of meetings with stakeholders, traditional rulers, Heads of tertiary institutions in the state and the National coordinator, Campus Cults Eradication, to strategize on ways of reducing crime in the state.
Barely a week ago, Benue state was thrown into confusion when some hoodlums stormed some judicial courts in Makurdi and allegedly carted away valuable property including case files. It was alleged that Judges and Lawyers in the agrarian state were held hostage by hoodlums during the attack.
However, the recent attack by hoodlums on the three Courts in the state including High court 9, Upper Area court as well as magistrate court 1 has generated a lot of mixed reactions.
It was alleged that the incident sparked crisis owing to the fact that the magistrate court 1, according to investigations, was the court handling the murder case of the late Mr Wilfred AondosooTondo, a former All Progressives Congress (APC) chairmanship contender for Buruku local government area, and a lecturer in the department of political science, University of Mkar, who was assassinated recently.
But then, it was gathered that the commissioner for Arts and Culture,Sekav Iortyom who was accused and arrested over the matter, and three others are standing trial in the court that was attacked.
According to reports, the robbers were allegedly detailed by the embattled commissioner to carry out the act to frustrate further investigations and prosecution of the murder case against him and others with the incumbent Buruku sole administrator David Yimam who are already taken to custody.
It was gathered that during the invasion at the magistrate court 1, the assailants broke into the court room and stole documents such as case files, both disposed and pending cases brought to the court by police, including the First Investigation Report(FIR) containing charges against the commissioner and others, one computer, window curtains among others.
At High Court 9 presided over by the wife of the state Deputy Governor, Justice Mary Abounu, the robbers were said to have stolen a refrigerator, three voltage regulators, set of computers etc. While at the upper Court, the registrar, Mrs Sarah Gboko confirmed that N280, 000 was stolen by the hoodlums.
Some critics including Simeon Oyih and Torva Menenge condemned the manner through which the judiciary which supposed to be the hope of a common man is being toyed around. According to them, the attack on the three Courts was a calculated attempt by some political elements to thwart the rule of law.
However, the Chief Judge of Benue state, Justice Iorhemen Hwande has dismissed the claim that judges were held hostage during the attacks and said what happened on Sunday night October 27, 2016 was a clear case of theft of court properties. He said the unlawful act was perpetrated by hoodlums.
The state Chief Judge further stated that the matter had since been reported to the police for investigation and possible arrest of