The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has raised the alarm over continuous influx of armed herdsmen into the state lamenting that “we are under the siege of armed herdsmen and we are helpless.”
The governor, who cried out, yesterday, after receiving the leaders of civil society organizations (CSOs), in his office in Makurdi, said the troops and security personnel deployed to the state were doing their best but were overstretched and needed to be fortified in the face of the new challenge.
He said, “We just met with CSOs who have been helping us since we came under attacks by armed herdsmen and we have reviewed the situation in the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. It is not a pleasant place to live in but we are helpless.
“It is our desire that all of them went back home and all the IDPs have indicated interest that they want to go back to their ancestral homes, but the main challenge is that of security in their communities. Up till today there are attacks going on in various communities that were invaded by these herdsmen.
“Every day there is influx of herdsmen into the state and every day we are contending with them. We are working very hard with security agencies but this people are armed to the teeth. And in some cases the security men had to withdraw because of their superior fire power.
“So, this is a very big challenge and we have agreed here that we will have to look for alternative ways that are legitimate and legal to see how we can complement the security agencies to ensure that we stamp out the menace that is going on.
“We are still under attack and under siege, several local governments, as I talk to you have been invaded and the people are fleeing. The security personnel are doing their best despite their challenge in terms of equipment and personnel and we are working closely with them.
“But one message I’m sending to the herdsmen is that our law is still in place and anyone that comes here is engaged in illegal activity and he will be apprehended because we believe in the rule of law.
“We do not want to take any illegal action, we have told our people not to attack any herder or their cattle but once they are spotted we will apprehend and prosecute them. Like I have said we have so far arrested over 400 herdsmen some are Tiv, Igede and Idoma aside the Fulanis and so far we have convicted 100 and it will go on until this impunity stops.
“Nobody is going to stop us from operating the law. Already because of the influx the locals have started fleeing their ancestral homes and moving into the IDPs camps and we are overwhelmed.
“But we are calling the security agencies to step up because we believe in the rule of law, we do not have a militia and we do not want to resort to self help but we are being coerced. We will not do anything illegal but we cannot fold our arms, we are going to move.”
Substance Abuse Becoming Thing Of Concern -Odu
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ngozi Nma Odu, has lauded the important role pharmacists play in the wellbeing of the society.
Odu gave this commendation while playing host to members of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor said while others are sleeping, pharmacists work hard “to ensure we all live in a better society, especially when you talk about the dangers of substance abuse.”
Odu stressed that, “It is really becoming a thing of great concern because of the level of children getting involved in this thing. It is even coming down to primary schools which now increases the burden of what you are doing, so we appreciate you for what you are doing for the society which we all are living in.”
The deputy governor extolled the lady pharmacists for the scholarship scheme they were sponsoring, noting that it was “amazing because when you change the narrative of somebody’s life, you become what they call a destiny helper.”
The deputy governor added, “So, for me, it is something I would encourage. Even the Bible says when you do it for them you have done unto God. It is a thing we get a lot of blessings out off, you may not see it now but some day it will definitely come.”
She expressed gratitude to them for their support for the Fubara-led administration which according to her has continued to spur them into action.
“Let me thank you for upholding the governor and myself in prayers, because without prayers we won’t be here, many people have prayed and God has heard, please do not stop, even for good governance, we need God to grant us the wisdom and knowledge of what to do”, she said.
In her remarks, Chairman of the Rivers State Branch of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Ebelechukwu Odom, said they were at the Government House to identify with the Governor Fubara-led administration in the ongoing restructuring of the state, and pledged their allegiance and unflinching support to the administration.
She assured that they would utilize the competences of Lady Pharmacists in Rivers State and synergize with partners for improvement in health, education, research development and socio-economic wellbeing of humanity through relevant and appropriate interventions, projects and programmes.
RSG Denies Rumours Of Cholera Outbreak In Soku
The Rivers State Government says it is not aware of any cholera outbreak in Soku community in the Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the State.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt by the State Ministry of Health.
According to the statement signed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Chidinma Oreh, the clarification was necessary following numerous enquiries from the media over a purported outbreak of cholera in Soku community.
The statement read in part, “The Rivers State Ministry of Health has received numerous enquiries from the Press regarding an alleged outbreak of cholera in Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area.
“Public health teams dispatched to investigate these alleged cases and deaths have so far received no confirmation of such.”
While describing cholera as a waterborne infectious disease, the commissioner said that the disease is notifiable, warranting escalating reports from disease surveillance and notification officers at the community level.
The statement clarified that the ongoing medical outreach in Soku community is in no way related to any outbreak of cholera.
“Outreaches have always been a way of getting accessible health care to underserved and vulnerable population, however, all such outreach activities must be conducted with approval from and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health and as such no entity should be conducting outreaches outside the coordination of the ministry”, it warned.
The ministry further said that all infectious diseases of this nature are reported, managed and escalated by the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
Dr. Oreh said the statement should serve as a strong warning to anyone conducting or planning health activities without due recourse to the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
She added that any such activities found to be carried out without the knowledge and clearance of the State Ministry of Health will be fully investigated and dealt with in order to ensure the protection of the lives of the people.
“Therefore, the general public and members of the Press are advised to disregard the rumours making the round on an ongoing outbreak of cholera and the death of some citizens of Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State as it is presently unfounded, misguided and capable of causing panic amongst citizens and residents.
“The general public is thus urged to remain calm and rest assured that the Rivers State Ministry of Health will continue to be a veritable source of public health information in the state”, the statement concluded.
Bill On State Police Scales Second Reading
The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for second reading a bill to provide for the establishment of state police in the country.
Sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu and 14 others, the bill seeks to alter the relevant Sections of the 1999 Constitution to pave the way for states to establish their own policing outfits.
As lawmakers took turns to contribute to the debate on the floor of the House during yesterday’s plenary, Kalu who stood in for the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, urged members to look beyond political ambitions and think about the safety of Nigerians and Nigeria.
Also speaking, Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) said, “It is the job of the police to maintain law and order. We have a population of over 200m people but we have a police strength that is less than 400,000. State Police should be created to address the internal security challenges of Nigeria.”
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