Samuel Ortom, Benue State governor

Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom on Thursday, announced ban on Christmas and New year activities across 23 local government areas of the state.

Ortom said the decision was reached at the state’s security council meeting which he presided over at the Government House in Makurdi.

According to him, after the review of security situation in the state, the security council decided to ban activities to mark Christmas and new year celebrations.

He advised residents to celebrate the occasions in their homes in line with COVID-19 protocols, adding that they should report any suspicious movement to relevant authorities.

Earlier, Ortom directed the immediate completion of construction work at the Maximum Security Custodian Centre (MSCC) in Makurdi to decongest the existing cells.

He gave the directive during a Thursday morning working visit to the facility as he directed the Commissioner for Finance to immediately release funds for the completion of the project.

He also directed the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, who doubles as Chairman prerogative of mercy, to compile a list of deserving inmates for pardon.

The governor also urged the Chief Judge of the State to use his position and identify those who are unjustly being incarcerated and those who could not afford to pay their fines for necessary action, noting that if given another chance, some of them (inmates) could become better citizens.

Ortom, who inspected the level of encroachment on the land belonging to the correction centre, also addressed the 423 inmates in the facility categorised into Inmates on Death Row (IDR) also known as condemned, Awaiting Trial Persons (ATP), and convicts.

While addressing journalists during the inspection, the governor said during the COVID-19 Pandemic, 48 inmates were released under the directive of the federal government, saying more would be released within the confines of the law.

He noted that he had supported inmates through payment of fines even before he became Governor, stressing that those in various cells across the country could make good leaders given the opportunity.

Ortom further promised a donation of 100 bags of rice and 10 cows for the inmates to celebrate the forthcoming Christmas and New year.