Lawrence Onoja, Benue State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Thursday accused the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Musur Dan-Ali (retd.), of being responsible for the killings in the state on Wednesday.
The commissioner made the allegation at a press briefing in Makurdi.
Herdsmen militia had Wednesday invaded Tse Zongu of Mbagwen where they killed nine people including two students who were at the village to sit for NECO examination.
Onoja Jnr said that nothing could exonerate the minister because the attack came barely 24 hours after his utterance.
He said, “From the timing of these killings, the militia herdsmen must have been encouraged by the unfortunate statement of the defence minister, who had just two days ago suggested the suspension of the anti-open grazing law.
“The implication of such provocative statement is that the militia herdsmen could have been inspired in their attacks on Benue communities.”
He said that the state government would no longer take the ‘reckless statement’ of the minister with levity, adding that Governor Samuel Ortom had already directed security agencies to quickly mobilise to the affected communities.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress in Benue State, on Thursday, has asked Dan-Ali to, as a matter of urgency, withdraw the statement on the anti-open grazing law, apologise to the people of the state or resign.
The state chairman of the party, Mr Abba Yaro, who made the call at a press conference in Makurdi on Thursday, maintained that over 500 Benue indigenes had so far lost their lives to the invasion between January and now.
He said, “The APC in Benue voted for Buhari not to be killed. We will not take this insult. Buhari should caution him as a principled man.
“The minister should apologise or resign with immediate effect. The law was made by the people of the state and not by the governor. If this statement is allowed, how will our party campaign in 2019?”
Similarly, the umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, lambasted Dan-Ali over his comments.
The IYC in a statement in Yenagoa on Thursday by its Secretary-General, Mr Alfred Kemepado, noted that the body aligned themselves with the resolution of the National Assembly directing the minister to withdraw the statement immediately.
The IYC leader said, “We want to specially thank the National Assembly for the courage they have displayed in calling Dan-Ali to check his utterances. These kinds of comments only reflect a mindset by some of our leaders who still think Nigeria is some kind of garrison.”