Why FG should suspend national census — Ortom, Middle Belt Forum

BENUE State governor, Samuel Ortom and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) have said the 2023 national census should be suspended until Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are returned to their ancestral lands.

The national population and housing census is scheduled to hold from May 3 to 7.

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Ortom and the leadership of the Middle Belt Forum called for the postponement of the planned census on Thursday, April 13, when a delegation from the MBF, led by its President, Bitrus Pogu, paid a courtesy call on the governor in Makurdi.

The governor said the failure of the Federal Government to provide adequate security for IDPs and the country before the census would amount to “a hidden agenda”, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur.

Ortom noted that about two million Benue indigenes displaced by insecurity would miss the census unless they are safely returned and resettled in their homes.

“I want to say that the Federal Government should suspend the issue of census because it looks like the proposed census is coming with an agenda. Because I understand from the National Population Commission that those to be counted must be counted in their localities”, he said.

Ortom decried the continued attacks on Benue communities by armed herdsmen over the years which, according to him, have led to the death of more than six thousand people, “and property worth billions of naira destroyed with the Federal Government doing little to help”.

“In Benue State alone we have lost over six thousand people. In the last few days alone, over 131 persons were killed and we are still counting because others are in the hospital”, he added.

Governor Samuel Ortom (L) in a handshake with Bitrus Pogu
Credit: Facebook

In his remarks, MBF leader Pogu said attacks by armed herdsmen on various communities within the Middle Belt “are frightening, because after killing and displacing the villagers, the Fulani came and renamed those villages”.

While calling on Federal Government to ensure security of lives and property in the country, Pogu said “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”, he added.



    First census since 2006

    The 2023 national population census will be Nigeria’s first headcount in Nigeria in 17 years. The last census was in 2006.

    The census will be conducted in May and, according to the NPC, will meet global best standards.

    Nigeria’s estimated population is more than 200 million, and the United Nations expects that to double by 2050. That would make Nigeria the world’s third most populous country, overtaking the United States.

    The census had been earlier scheduled for March 29 but was postponed due to the postponement of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections.

    Sinafi Omanga is a journalist with The ICIR. His Twitter handle is @OmangaSinafi and Email: [email protected]

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