Just In: Ortom ask federal government to suspend Census
By Mukhtar Tijjani
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State called on the Federal Government on Thursday to suspend the conduct of the census scheduled for May.
Ortom made the call when he received a delegation from the Middle Belt Forum, led by its president, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, at Government House in Makurdi.
The governor said many people in the state were in the IDP camps and would not be counted because they needed to be in their localities before they could participate in the exercise.
He said before any census is conducted, the federal government must ensure adequate security for the IDPs in Benue and elsewhere in the country to go back to their homes to be counted.
“I want to say that the Federal Government should suspend the issue of the census because it looks like the proposed census is coming with an agenda.”
So, until they are able to restore security and all our IDPs go back to their ancestral lands, we should give all of them the opportunity to be counted in their homes of birth.
“Because I understand from the National Population Commission that those to be counted must be counted in their localities,” he said.
Ortom added that there was so much injustice, bias, and tribalism going on in the country that both the leaders and the people were expected to correct it before the country could move forward.
Earlier in his remark, the President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, corroborated with Governor Ortom and urged the federal government to suspend the proposed national population census because he believed that the exercise “was coming with a hidden agenda.”
Pogu also frowned at the level at which armed invaders have been killing people in the Middle Belt.
He maintained that the people of the Middle Belt “will not cede our land to anyone.” No portion of our land will be ceded to anyone. It will not be allowed. That should not be allowed to happen. “Our land is our heritage.”
The Forum president added that for everyone to have a sense of belonging, the Federal Government should move beyond mere “issuance of condolence messages” whenever people are killed and decisively deal with the killers and their sponsors.