Governor denies raising, arming militia
Coalition of Aggrieved Pensioners (CAP) in Benue State, yesterday, staged a peaceful protest in Makurdi against the non-payment of their 32 months pensions and 74 months gratuities.
During the protest, hundreds of retirees from the state and local councils demanded the payment of, at least, six months of the arrears to help them cater for their families.
They also demanded the payment of two months arrears every month until the backlog is cleared.
The visibly exhausted protesters, who were guided through the major streets of Makurdi by armed security personnel, were bearing green leaves and placards to express their pains.
Addressing the protesters, the Chairman of CAP, Akosu Alexis, appealed to the governor to clear the backlog, especially as the state recently received its share of the Paris Club refund and the federal allocation.
“Now that the Paris Club refund and the federal allocation to states have come at the same time, we are demanding the payment of six months arrears at once, out of the 32 and 74 months being owed pensioners, to stabilise them. Then the payment of two months every preceding month till the backlog is cleared. Other demands before the governor’s table remain sacrosanct,” he said.
Akosu claimed that over 500 pensioners had died in recent years while waiting for their entitlements.
MEANWHILE, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has denied raising any militia as being speculated in some quarters.
Ortom restated this, yesterday, when he received the Chairman of MiddleBelt Brain Trust (MBT), who was Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (rtd.), and his delegation at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
The Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Sen. George Akume, had at a press conference in Abuja on August 30, 2021, accused the Ortom-led administration of raising an army in the state, which were stockpiling arms.
But the governor, while receiving his guests, described those making such allegations as enemies of the state, who have taken sides with oppressors of Benue to protect their meal tickets.
Agwai, on his part, remarked that he was in the state to meet the governor and stakeholders for first-hand information on the cause of recent crises in the state, after which views would be collated and recommendations made for necessary action.
He stated that MBT was a 16-member apolitical group affiliated with the Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT), Barcelona, Spain, working in North Central states to find lasting solution to crises.