Benue killings: Ortom accuses Buhari’s govt of gross insensitivity, support for Fulani militia

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, on Thursday, insisted that he gave full cooperation to all layers of security agencies working in the state to help curtail the menace of the Fulani killing squad displacing various communities in the state and other internal security skirmishes.

Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Nathaniel Ikyur, faulted the recent declaration by the presidency over the current security situation in the state, describing it as the height of recklessness and gross insensitivity against the people of the State.

The presidency, it will be recalled,had, in a statement on Wednesday by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated that if Governor Ortom had been more concerned with doing his job than politicizing the tragedies so frequently taking place under his watch, the situation in Benue might be very different, like in any of its neighbours – Taraba, Nasarawa, the FCT which all enjoy peace.

The presidency accused Ortom of stubbornly refusing to engage with the detailed, holistic approach clearly spelt out by the Federal Government and arrogantly chose his own, destructive path.

However, Ortom maintained that he has been performing his duty as Governor of Benue State and will continue to do so until May 29, 2023 when he leaves office.

The statement by Ikyur explained that between 2015 and this year, Governor Ortom has constantly held security meetings and gathered intelligence to support security agencies operating in the state.

Ortom, the statement added, has however consistently pointed out that the security agencies are grossly underfunded and deserve to be better equipped and motivated to tackle insecurity in the country.

He said that it was therefore laughable when the SSA on Media and Publicity to the president, Mallam Shehu tried to whip up an unfounded lie against the Governor.

The Thursday’s statement by Ikyur reads, “Shehu Garba’s infantile statement on the security situation in Benue State has once again confirmed our position that the killings; mass murder in Benue by the Fulani militia has the full endorsement of the Buhari government.

“It also goes to confirm that the Presidential spokesman does not only speak for Buhari but for some terrorist Fulani groups too.

“Indeed, the Presidential spokesman’s futile attempts to twist events and history in Benue State is unfortunate and reprehensible.

“It shows how much he and others in that league have misled the government and Nigerian people in the last inglorious eight years.

“It is equally a known fact that President Buhari has failed woefully in securing Nigeria, and Benue state in particular.

It is on record that Governor Samuel Ortom has repeatedly pleaded with the Buhari government to intervene in the incessant invasion of Benue State by Fulani militias.

The President sadly chooses to endorse the invasion and merely asks our people to learn to accommodate their neighbours who derive pleasure in killing and dispossesing them of their ancestral lands.

“What the Buhari administration has done to our people through the Fulani militants as confirmed by Shehu Garba is to spit on the graves of our compatriots mowed down needlessly by Fulani militia. We shall not forget these atrocities.

“Besides unleashing Fulani killers on our people, the Buhari government denied Benue State any meaningful project in the last eight years, including the repair of federal government roads in the state which are now death traps.

“We have tried in vain to find out the offense of Benue people, but we found none, except that our people are responsible, law abiding citizens.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Samuel Ortom was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 to defend the interest of the people of Benue and never to be a lackey in the hands of expansionists using every means to perpetrate evil against the Benue citizens.

“By Garba Shehu’s latest statement, the presidency has clearly demonstrated that Governor Ortom is right when he consistently accused the APC-led federal government of complicity in the killings orchestrated against Benue people by the Fulani herdsmen as represented by Miyetti Allah Kautal, Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM and other Fulani socio cultural groups.

“If the Presidency can find it convenient to lay the blame of the massive killings that the Fulani have continued to perpetrate in Benue on Governor Ortom, what can it say of the massacre and kidnappings in Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto and President Buhari’s home state of Katsina among other states where the killing of innocent citizens has continued unchallenged?

“The Presidency has shown in this recent public statement that they have placed cows above human lives and made the animals to urinate on the graves of those they massacred in Benue and elsewhere across the country. If not, they wouldn’t have gone to town to mock the slain in their graves.

“It is an insult on Benue people including those killed and butchered children, the maimed, raped and abused women and the over two million people living under squalid conditions in Nigeria’s largest Internally Displaced Camps in the state.

“The Presidency’s statement is a reckless stab by agents of genocide against the Benue people by blaming the victims.

“Let Garba Shehu and occupants of the current Presidential Villa be informed that the ongoing pogrom in Benue State is a designed plot by the Fulani against the Benue people to dispossess them of their lands and these atrocities are well documented.

“The perpetrators are also well known to local and international authorities. By this recent posturing, everyone is now aware that the perpetrators have the backing and sympathy of the Federal Government.

“The Presidency’s attempt to mock Governor Ortom over the loss of his senatorial seat and the PDP in the Governorship has furthermore strengthened our belief that the massive deployment of security personnel for the elections in the state was planned and hatched in the presidential villa and supervised by agents of the APC.

“But let the Presidential spokesman remember that Governor Ortom is extremely grateful to the people of the State for always giving him the opportunity to serve them.

“The Governor stands for justice, equity and fairness and no amount of blackmail and impunity as orchestrated by the Buhari administration can make him to change his advocacy against injustice and oppression.

“In fact, before the elections, Governor Ortom had publicly stated that he was ready to sacrifice his senatorial ambition for the sake of the survival of democracy where the likes of Garba Shehu and their collaborators would rather want it truncated.

“It is public knowledge that the 2023 elections were heavily rigged using some security operatives, money, federal might and electronic means. “Governor Ortom’s decision not to challenge the result of the Benue North West Senatorial election in court again points to the fact that he is not a selfish and desperate politician.

“Benue people are well aware that Governor Ortom has been a target of the Buhari presidency since 2017 when he boldly signed a law banning open grazing of livestock in the state.

“The Governor has been subjected to many coordinated media attacks, probes, freezing of state accounts and other punitive measures to frustrate and cripple his administration.

“While other states were given infrastructural loans, Benue under Governor Ortom was denied access to the funds.

“The same thing happened when the Benue State Government met all requirements to secure N42 billion to clear the backlog of salaries, pensions and gratuity”, it said.

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