The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator George Akume, claimed on Friday that the Benue State Government was behind the attacks by herdsmen in the state, which had consumed hundreds of lives.
In the course of the relentless attacks, many villages were also reduced to rubble in Benue state.
On January 1 alone, 75 lives were lost to the herdsmen in the state in one example among many that followed subsequently across several months.
The Benue killings received both national and international condemnation, especially when the plight of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons became the sight of sadness and sorrows.
But Akume, a former Governor of the state, who spoke with State House correspondents shortly after he led a delegation of All Progressives Congress members from the state on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, blamed the attacks on the state government.
The visit was primarily to assure Buhari that the party would mobilise support in Benue State for Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
Responding to a question on the herdsmen, Akume replied, “When you talk about herdsmen and farmers’ clash, it is a story going good-bye. Have you heard of farmers/herders clashes in Benue again? No.
“We know those who were behind that; government was behind that. I am talking about the state government, through the livestock guards. They knew what was going on. So it is now a thing of the past.
“Everything that is going there is fraudulent in Benue State and the people are simply tired on this misinformation that they have been receiving. The narrative has changed; it is not question of herdsmen, we are not talking about religious and ethnic bigotry, we are talking about performance of government.”
A statement by his Special Adviser to President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, also said the President was unhappy that some states took bailout to pay salaries but still owed workers.
On the herdsmen, the President was quoted as saying, “We know about herders. The ones we knew carried sticks, and sometimes cutlasses to cut foliage for their cattle. We now have people who carry AK 47s and pretend they are herdsmen.