Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi on Tuesday appealed to Nigerians not to give political colouration to the recurring herdsmen/farmers clashes in Benue and some other states across the country.
Bello made the appeal when the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai formally launched the Exercise Ayem Akpatuma – Cat Race at Guma Local Government Area of Benue,.
The exercise, intended to address the clashes began on Feb. 15, was also being conducted in Nasarawa, Kaduna, Taraba, Kogi and Niger States.
It is expected to come to an end on March 31.
The governor, who dressed in army camouflage along with his Benue counterpart, Samuel Ortom, urged the people of the state to cooperate with the military on the exercise.
“Please, do not politicise this state of insecurity. If you politicise it we won’t be able to make head way. Let us be safety conscious,” Bello said.
Orton thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for deploying troops to address the classes.
He expressed confidence that with the deployment of troops, peace will soon return to the state, and the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) would be able to return to their communities.
The chief of army staff explained that the exercise was not targeted at any tribe or religious group but criminal elements behind the attacks and other forms of criminality.
Buratai assured that the rules of engagement would be applied to the “letter’’, while the exercise lasted..
“We will not tolerate any act that will destabilise the peaceful atmosphere that has been prevailing in these areas, Benue, Kaduna, Taraba and Nasarawa states that have been most affected.
Anyone found to be involved in this act of insecurity the rules of engagement will take its course,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that shortly before the launch of the exercise, the army chief said the governors visited one of the camps accommodating 15, 000 IDPs at Bajimba in Guma Local Government Area.
According to the Executive Secretary of Benue State Management Agency SEMA, Mr Emmanuel Shior, there are 169, 000 IDPs in eight camps across the state due to the clashes. (NAN)