Following the recent killing of 11 soldiers by bandits in Bonta area of Konshisha local government of Benue State, the Association of Igede Media Professionals (AIMPs) has urged 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.
The group in a statement by its president, Egena Sunday Ode commiserated with the Nigerian Army and the families of the officer and eleven soldiers who lost their lives in the attack.
He said, “given the high-scale banditry in the area, 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.”
Ode described the killing of the military personnel as a despicable crime and prayed to God to give their loved ones the needed strength and grace to face tomorrow.
The media group said it believes 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 the armed forces
The statement reads further, “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.
“We would similarly urge all the communities in the area, especially, Bonta and Ukpute, to embrace peace and to see themselves as collective victims of a non-challant or non-responsive government.
“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.”