From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi
Worried by the increasing cases of crimes in Benue state, concerned stakeholders have called for a joint response mechanism to tackle the menace.
The stakeholders, a combined forum comprising of representatives of government, peace and security NGOs, security and sister agencies, community members and Civil Society Organizations, (CSO), made this call at a Peace Architecture Dialogue (PAD) organized by an International NGO, Search For Common Ground, (Search).
During the meeting, stakeholders observed with dismay the alarming increase in crimes and criminality in most parts of the state naming killings, mounting of illegal checkpoints, political violence kidnapping and cultism.
They also noted that community people are not helping with useful information that would help arrest perpetrators of these crimes, rather; they are shielding their children who are committing the crimes.
The meeting therefore recommended that all members should take their sensitization down to the grassroots especially the affected Local Government Areas of Guma, Logo, Ukum, Katsina Ala, Kwande, Ado, Agatu, Otukpo among others.
It also called on state government to create enlightment on the provisions of the Anti Cultism law and ensure proper implementation to deter intending offenders.
Speaking to our correspondent, the Senior Programmes Manager for Search, Middle Belt Office, Olutoyin Falade stated that Search for Common Ground is deeply concerned about peace and progress of Benue state.
According to her, the Peace Architecture Dialogue brings together well meaning people in Benue state and encourages them to come up with workable solutions that can mitigate the security problems currently facing the state.
“We must discuss and find out what constitutes cultism, what crimes they committed and the crimes committed by miscreants.
“We are also discussing with leadership of security agencies and hoping that they will also assist Benue State government in tackling cases of illegal checkpoints which have become points of harassment, extortion and sometimes, robbery.
Falade maintained that at the end of their two year project, Search would want to see a peaceful and prosperous Benue.
“The state is being bedevilled with so many crisis and for me the way forward is that the people need to agree that the pains need to be turned around for their gain.
Benue is a blessed state. The mechanisms to activate the blessings in a way that the people will be blessed is what the state is lacking.
She therefore expressed the confidence that with their strategies andnother development plans Search is implementing, Benue will be out of the woods and may be coming the best economy after Lagos state.