The death toll from the Zaki Biam Yam Market attack stands at 17, and not 50 as reported by a section of the media, the Benue State Government said on Wednesday.
A statement signed by Mr Terver Akase, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom, described the reports as “misleading”.
“Some national dailies today (Wednesday), claimed that the death toll from the Monday attack on Zaki-Biam yam market has risen to about 50 persons.
“Such reports are inaccurate and misleading; they are capable of creating a sense of terror and breakdown of law and order in the state.
“’When Gov. Samuel Ortom visited Zaki-Biam on Tuesday, correspondents of media houses working in the state were invited.
“They accompanied the governor to the scene of the incident and also met with survivors of the attack in the hospital. The correspondents were similarly taken to the mortuary, where they saw the corpses.
“’The number of lives lost in the Zaki-Biam attack, according to security reports, stands at 17, and professional ethics of journalism demand that news reports should have reflected the casualty figure as confirmed, even if they had other sources that claimed otherwise,” it stated.
It further stated that the task of keeping Benue safe and giving its people the assurance of peace, was the responsibility of all stakeholders, including the media.
It said that the governor had demonstrated “uncommon courage and determination’’ to guarantee peace and security in all parts of the state, and expected the media to complement the efforts.
“We encourage the people of the state to carry on with their normal activities without fear as security has been beefed up in the areas affected by the recent attacks,” it stated.
It urged the people to collaborate with the police and other security agencies by providing useful and timely information that could lead to the arrest of criminals in the state.
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