Benue governor Samuel Ortom has dismissed claims by Shangev-Tiev Assembly that over 70 persons have been killed in Konshisha Local Government Area of the state.
Ortom also said that three of the weapons seized from the military by armed militia in Konshisha has been recovered.
The governor made the remark while addressing journalists at the Government House in Makurdi on Friday over the development in Konshisha area.
He explained that eight persons including two bandits who had exchanged fire with the soldiers were caught and killed, a handicapped man died after his destroyed house collapsed on him, and a middle-aged woman fell while running and died amongst four others.
“That is the report I got from the chairman. So, I’m taken aback to hear that an unknown group held a press conference and said 70 people were killed.
“I wish to call on the people to restrain themselves from making unguarded and unverified statement. This will not help matter. You will only succeed in aggravating the matter. You will only succeed in pouring petrol on an existing fire and you know the implications.
“The security men you know especially the soldiers of if they were not here, we will not be here today. Herdsmen, local bandits would have consumed us,” he said.
Ortom however appealed to the military for restraint in the ongoing effort to recover their weapons so as to prevent the loss of more innocent lives in the affected communities, adding that a report from the Konshisha Council Chairman indicated that there was no operation on Friday.
The governor disclosed that out of the weapons seized from the military by youths of the area, three had been recovered while he had directed the Local Government Chairman, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to see that the remaining arms are recovered.
Ortom further stressed that eight people, including militia members were killed during the military operation and appealed to those fuelling the crisis in the media to desist from the act and support the government to find lasting peace in the area.
Answering questions from journalists, Ortom said the deployment of soldiers to the warring communities of Konshisha and Oju was in compliance with President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to security agencies to shoot on sight, anyone in possession of illegal weapons.
The governor further sympathised with victims of the crisis and assured the people that his administration will ensure that no more lives are lost just as he assured that the Benue State Government will ensure the demarcation of the boundary between Bonta community of Konshisha and Okpute in Oju to put the dispute to rest.
Ortom maintained, “I’m on top of the situation and monitoring it. I have not slept for the past three days ensuring several interventions. So, we do not want any situation that will amplify the one we already have. If anyone has any evidence contrary to what the chairman told me, he should bring it out instead of making inflammatory statements.”