The Association of Lawyers from Conflict Zone in collaboration with the Association of Igede Media Professionals has staged a peaceful protest against the alleged killing of residents of Ukpute, Ocoro and communities in Oju local government area of Benue state by Bonta (Tiv) militia since last year.
Addressing journalists during the protest held at the Unity Fountain Abuja, President of the Association of Lawyers from Conflict Zone, John Owulo said the protest became inevitable as a result of the ominous indifference of Governor Samuel Ortom to the incessant attacks, destruction of lives and property of innocent residents of the aforementioned communities.
The lawyers drew the attention of “President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspector-General of Police, International Community and other relevant stakeholders in the protection of lives and property, to the continuous killings of the people of Ukpute and other contiguous (lgede) communities by Bonta (Tiv) militias in Benue state since June 2020, while our Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom remains ominously indifferent.
Continuing, the lawyers said “Mr President and other concerned authorities may recall that this crisis was the reason for the gruesome murder of 11 soldiers and an officer of the Nigerian Army by Bonta militias in April 2021, while on a peace-keeping mission to the crisis area.
They added that Shortly after the burial of the slain soldiers, Bonta people resumed hostilities and are continuing with killings, maiming, looting, raping and destruction of properties of the people of Ukpute and other neighbouring lgede communities.
“With hearts full of worries and utter state of despair, we rise today as people and lawyers, media professionals and concerned men and women of Igede extraction in Benue state to stage this protest” they stated.
They, therefore, called on the Government and people of Nigeria, the United Nations, Amnesty International, human rights organizations and other humanitarian institutions to not only speak against but quickly stop the incessant, unprovoked killings of the people by Bonta community of Konshisha Local Government, Benue State.
According to them “On Tuesday 20h July 2021, the crisis took a new dimension when Bonta people invaded a neutral lgede speaking community (Ochoro) in Konshisha Local Government Area.
The community has been existing since pre-colonial times and was part of Konshisha Local Government Council created in 1976.
They explained that It has never been part of the crisis and the only known reason for the attack is they speak lgede language.
The community Chief, Dennis Okpe ljoko, was abducted and gruesomely murdered while bathing and several others were killed with some missing till date.” the lawyers added.