By Egena Sunday Ode
But for the alarm raised by media practitioners of Igede extraction, the communal war between Ukpute and Bonta in Oju and Konshisha Local Government Areas, respectively, would have continued unabated.
This was the assertion of a pressure group under the aegis of Association of Igede Media Professionals (AIMPs).
The media practitioners said their press statement of Tuesday, June 30 which went viral was what forced Governor Samuel Ortom to hurriedly convene a peace meeting the next day where a truce was reached by the warring communities.
In the Tuesday statement, the group alleged that the governor and the security agencies in the state had failed to make concerted effort to quell the communal clash that had been raging for days.
“Prior to our intervention, the attitude of the Benue state government and security agencies in the state to the conflict which had claimed scores of lives and property was lukewarm, if not outrightly indifferent,” the association said in a statement signed by its President, Egena Sunday Ode, and released on Thursday.
Recall that the Benue State Police Command had denied any knowledge of the communal clash last week, more than three days into the senseless attacks with glaring attendant deaths and wanton destruction of property.
Spokesperson of the Command, Catherine Anene, had told a Makurdi-based correspondent of a national daily last week that the clash was a mere threat which, according to her, the police had settled.
“There was no crisis, no fight, there was only a threat but the police came to dialogue with them, so no one died because there was no fight,” she was quoted by the correspondent to have said.
The media group, however, insisted that without it’s intervention, the authorities in Makurdi would have continued to pretend that all was well while more lives and property would have been destroyed.
AIMPs said though their noble and good-spirited intervention had been misconstrued in government quarters, leading to the haulage of unprintable invectives at the group. “It is the price we have to pay for the dignity of our people. No sacrifice, therefore, will be considered too much on our part”, the group said.