Benue Governor Samuel Ortom said on Monday that the state was committed to building a strong and indivisible Nigerian nation and would never support any secessionist agitation.
Ortom, who spoke at a meeting with Benue Council of Chiefs, also restated government’s readiness to protect the rights of Nigerians resident in the state, irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds.
The meeting, held in Makurdi and attended by various stakeholders and the leadership of tribal and religious groups resident in Benue, was a proactive measure against reprisal violence over skirmishes in some parts of the country.
“Benue is not in support of any secessionist agitation and will not want mischief makers to cause violence in the state. People with such plans are advised to leave in their own interest,” he said.
Ortom charged traditional rulers and leaders of other ethnic groups to preach the message of peace to their localities, urging them to report trouble makers to the appropriate authorities.
In his remarks, the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, commended the proactive steps of the government toward calming nerves, and expressed the Tiv Traditional Council’s readiness to support the measures.
Also speaking, the Och’Idoma, Mr Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, said that Benue has remained the most peaceful state in the country and would strive to keep that status.
The President of South-South residents in the state, Chief Godffery Ogboro, in a remark, said that his people were committed to the promotion of peace and unity in Nigeria.
“We are committed to peace and unity of Nigeria; we cannot wage war against ourselves.
”Some of us have houses here and also married from here. We shall be the greatest losers if there is no peace,” he said.
Chief Chuks Albert, President, Igbo Assembly, Benue State Chapter, in his speech, condemned the secessionist agenda being pursued by some sections of the Igbo community, declaring that his group was in support of one Nigeria.
“We stand for one Nigeria; we are not part of the Igbo that want to secede by force. We thank the governor for guaranteeing our peaceful stay in Benue.
“We have an umbrella community which is Igbo Delegate Assembly; we also have Ohaneze Ndigbo. We have all met and resolved that we belong to one Nigeria,” he said.