Benue: Attempted vilification of Jonathan Agbidyeh

By Fanen Ihyongo

Benue state has continued to be in the news and on Nigeria’s map of high level insecurity and banditry. The area with the most ferocious attacks and security concerns is Sankera, which comprises Katstina Ala, Ukum and Logo local government areas.

Apart from the fact that there are some ungoverned spaces within this area, the security situation in Sankera has become so complicated and difficult to ascribe appropriate narrative and corresponding security actions. While there are internal security concerns within communities in the area, herdsmen on the other hand have taken maximum advantage of the situation to visit terror and mayhem on the people, killing them in hundreds and destroying property worth billions of naira. Not even the elimination of the most wanted militia lord, Terwase Agwaza, aka Gana, who hailed from Sankera, has enthroned the desired peace in the area.

The militarisation of Sankera is one of the most embarrassing issues that has dotted the chequered history of the people of Benue State. This ugly scenario rose with some politicians within the Sankera area but has unfortunately refused to go down with them. Most of the protagonist still go about as saints.

The resolution of this crisis therefore requires a holistic approach devoid of any sentiments and attempts to achieve personal glory. Genuine afforts to resolve the Sankera crisis will clearly oppose the sustained attempts to villify one of the illustrious sons of the area and ranking member of the Benue State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Jonathan Agbidyeh.

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On March 18, this lawmaker was picked for the second time by security agencies relating to high profile charges bordering on insecurity. Agbidyeh has had a robust career in the civil service, climbing through the ranks without blemish before he joined politics. He has benefitted immensely from his many years of goodwill and generosity to the people.

His release again from detention a few days ago apparently shows the lack of willingness by security agencies to be woven into the thick conspiracy to rope Agbidyeh in on purely what seems to be politics taken too far. The courts had also discharged and acquitted him when he was arrested for similar charges in the life span of the 9th Assembly where his colleagues then gave him some moral support even though he was from the opposition APC when PDP steered the state.

It is worrisome however, to note the silence of the 10th Benue Assembly under the leadership of the Speaker, Aondona Dajoh. The assembly is controlled by the APC with Rt. Hon Agbidye as a ranking member, the only one who won the polls twice on the platform of the broom. The silence of the House members during this trying period of one of them is anything but golden.

This is an Assembly that dedicated sessions and passed resolutions suspending a local government council Chairman over allegations of assassination attempt on the Speaker. It is strange that they could not muster any legislative support for their ranking member who was being persecuted in the custody of security agencies for weeks.

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It will be dangerous for our system and democracy if the leadership of the Benue State House of Assmbly is buried in such cheap and vindictive politics.

At the end of all the conspiracy, Rt. Hon Agbidyeh is out again! His freedom for the second time should deter his detractors, and as earlier stated , reinforce the fact that politics should be separated from security issues.

The continued trial and attempts to scapegoat Rt Hon Jonathan Agbidyeh is certainly not the way out of the security situation in Sankera and must immediately be stopped by the actors.

Let the lawmaker be allowed to face his legislative functions.

Chief Fanen Ihyongo, an activist cum journalist, writes from Makurdi

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