2023 poll: Two million IDPs in Benue state face disenfranchisement, says Ortom
Ahead of the 2023 poll, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state says that no fewer than two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) may not be able to cast ballots for candidates of their choices.
Speaking during the Platinum Post annual round table themed: “Contemporary security challenges and their effects on the 2023 general elections”, he expressed concern over the lack of data on the number of IDPs in the country.
Represented by his special adviser on SDGs, Prof Magdalene Dura, he called on Prof Yakubu Mahmoud to lead INEC to liaise with state emergency agencies to have credible data on IDPs in their respective states.
The Governor remarked that virtually all the IDPs in Benue state were displaced from their ancestral lands where they obtained their voter cards from INEC during voter registration exercises over the years.
Calling on INEC to implement an all-inclusive election framework, he stressed the need for the creation of polling units for IDPs as part of ongoing efforts to ensure free and fair general elections in 2023.
Saying that 21 out of the 23 local councils in Benue state are at the receiving end of the nefarious activities of herders, he accused the federal government of applying double standards in the terms of supporting IDPs in Benue state as against those in the North East geopolitical zone affected by the activities of the Boko Haram Islamists insurgency group.
He noted: “Don’t we deserve protection? The key issue here is the lack of justice and equitable distribution of resources. We need to entrench rule of law so that every Nigerian would feel protected. You can’t have patriotism and unity in the absence of rule of law. For our two million IDPs going into the election, what are the measures put in place by INEC to make sure they vote. I am not sure if something would be done in that regard.
“I recommend that INEC need to get to states with high levels of insecurity and discuss with states’ emergency agencies. There is no data on IDPs in Nigeria as of now. INEC need to have this data to create voting polling units for IDPs.
“INEC need to discuss with their leaders to know what they need and ensure they recruit adhoc staff from among the IDPs to work for them as part of measures to ensure the election is credible. We believe the only way Nigeria can move forward is to recognize that we are at war.”
The Governor identified the rich agricultural and mineral resources that abound in the state as the reason behind the incessant attacks unleashed on the people of Benue state adding that the situation is worsened by the refusal by the federal government to allow the implementation of the open grazing prohibition law in the state.