Hold Alia accountable for Sankera killings, Benue PDP warns

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

The Benue state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party has called on the general public to hold the governor of the state, Father Hyacinth Alia accountable for the ongoing serial killings in the Sankera axis of the North Central state.

The Benue’s major opposition party made this charge while reacting to an open confession by the governor that he reached an agreement with the bandits terrorizing the area while he was campaigning prior to the last Guber election.

Reacting through its State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom yesterday, the Benue PDP condemned the public confession of the governor for having a pact with bandits in the Sankera area of the state comprising Katsina-Ala, Ukum and Logo local government areas, who have over the years allegedly been behind killings, kidnappings and other forms of crime in the area.

The statement reads:

Specifically on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, while visiting Akpuuna 1 settlement area in Sankera where on Saturday, July 8, 2023, yet to be identified gunmen attacked and killed over 27 persons, Governor Alia stated among other things that during the campaigns, he had a pact with the bandits whom he referred to as “my brothers in the bush”, and had pledged that if he became governor, he will bring them home from hiding where they had been since a crackdown on their criminal activities by the administration of Governor Samuel Ortom.

The governor expressed dismay that they could carry out killings without first “hearing from him”, and this was after he had decried the tragedy of the killings which he stated emphatically were carried out, not by anyone outside the area, but by persons within locality.

This raises a number of questions which the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and indeed Benue people demand answers to from the governor.

First, when the governor declared that the killings were carried out by the locals and not by outsiders, was he speaking from an informed position based on findings from a conclusive investigation, or he was only seeking to distance Fulani herdsmen from possible involvement since they also fall within the sphere of the likely suspects?

Secondly, who are those bandits whom Mr. Governor referred to as “my brothers in the bush”? What cause are they fighting for? How does he plan to bring them home and how will he resettle them? In other words, by his confessed pact with them, is Governor Alia planning on having an Amnesty Programme for the Bandits of Sankera?

Thirdly, those ‘brothers of the governor in the bush’ are suspects in the killings of the 27 persons in Akpuuna 1 and the kidnapping of Hon. John Gbede Chihichan, a retired Director with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) who was a PDP aspirant for the House of Representatives in 2023, and this raises the question – is the governor willing to have them subjected to investigation aimed at bringing them to book to answer for their crimes, if they are found guilty, or will he turn a blind eye and insulate them from investigation and likely prosecution?

Fourthly, does this fact of a pact between Governor Alia and the ‘Bandits of Sankera’ not lend credence to the claims by Fulani herdsmen that he also had a pact with them during the campaigns and pledged to repeal the anti open grazing law in return for their financial support to his election effort?

PDP demands that Governor Alia honour his oath of allegiance to the Constitution of Nigeria by coming clean on his links with ‘The Bandits of Sankera’ as well as Fulani herdsmen, regarding how he intends to fulfill his stated pledge to the bandits and what his reaction is to the alleged claims by Fulani herdsmen of a deal the governor had with them, against the backdrop of the recent killings in Akpuuna 1 and the unceasing instreaming of the herdsmen into the state which is attended by killings and more displacement of the rural populace.

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