The Association of Igede Media Professionals (AIMPs), has expressed commiseration with the Nigerian Army, as well as families of the officer and eleven soldiers reportedly slaughtered in cold blood by bandits in an unprovoked attack in and around Bonta area of Konshisha Local Government of Benue State.
Recall that the group had last week, insisted that Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom should take the blame for remaining indifferent until the escalation of the avoidable crisis, culminating in the gruesome murder of the soldiers.
The media professionals in a statement by its President, Mr. Egena Ode on Sunday said; “It is a despicable crime and our hearts are with the military high command and the bereaved families of these gallant soldiers.
“As their bodies are committed to mother earth, we pray to God to give their loved ones the needed strength and grace to face tomorrow.
“We would commend the Nigeria Army for the discipline and professionalism (in the face of grievous provocation) exhibited by its personnel in the on-going stabilisation campaign around Bonta.
“Given the high-scale banditry in the area (attested to by troops themselves), weapons in circulation and frequency of attacks on Ukpute and it’s environs, we would call for a thorough arms mop-up as well as tracking of the funders and procurers of these bandits.
“Such an extended operation is necessary for the peace and security of ordinary citizens in the area.
“We would also call upon the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff to as a matter of urgency establish a buffer military post between Ukpute and Bonta as a further security guarantee for the vulnerable and defenceless.
“We believe a lesson must have been learnt by the government of Benue State, and indeed, all parties to the Ukpute-Bonta dispute on the dangers of procrastination, indifference and prejudicial behaviour by those in government in the face of grave and recurring danger; dangers of expansionist and annihilationist ambitions by the more powerful neighbours; and contempt or disrespect for members of our armed forces
“We do believe there is no alternative to good neighbourliness, peaceful co-existence, mutual recognition, and respect for constituted authority, especially, members of our armed forces that conduct themselves within the limits of the law.
“In light of this, we urge the Benue State Goverment to do the needful by ensuring an unbiased and dispassionate demarcation of the area. Happily, documents or survey maps from archives confirmed by GPS have since reconfirmed the boundary.
“We however, urge the State Goverment to go beyond boundary demarcation by bringing development such as light to the beleaguered communities of Ukpute, Bonta and their environs as they belong to the forgotten parts of the state. Even the road that traverses the communities is unusable.
“Perhaps, the Governor needs no reminding that he deployed construction equipment to that road only to withdraw them after he won the 2019 election without an inch of work done.
“Finally, we urge the State Goverment to compliment the military stabilisation initiative by immediately commencing sensitization campaign (complete with hotlines) in the conflict area of the dangers of procuring or harbouring bandits or promoting violence”.