Says truth suppressed too long
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State has vowed to protect the people of the state in line with the oath of office he swore to always tell the truth.
The governor regretted that those who had the responsibility to stop the killings of innocent citizens by suspected herdsmen have refused to live up to their responsibility and decided to insult him for condemning the atrocity.
According to him, the era of promoting sycophancy and mediocrity is over.
Speaking to newsmen, weekend, Ortom said though some people had planned to attack him, he had decided to offer himself like a sacrificial lamb to ensure that the truth that had long been suppressed prevails in the country.
He said: “The Bible says ‘you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.’ In Nigeria today, we have no business being where we are. We would have been far ahead of where we are today. It is just that for a long time, we have suppressed the truth.
“But the truth is that I have decided to offer myself. If it will require me to pay the supreme sacrifice for saying the truth, I am ready to do it because the time has come that we must stop promoting sycophancy and mediocrity.
“We must promote the truth. We must respect the constitution and the rule of law. The constitution and the law of our land are the only things that can guide us to greater heights.
“They are the only things that can lead us to where we want to be, the only thing that can promote and project us to rank with other countries that are doing well.
“Was it not just yesterday we said ‘Ghana must go?’ Why is it that on West African soil today, the whole world is turning their attention, whether in investment or whatever? Ghana has become a reference point against Nigeria.”
The governor, who said some people would have killed him but for the intervention of the media, stated that he had suspended every activity concerning the 2019 elections to concentrate on the resolution of the killings of his people by the marauding herdsmen.
He also lamented that he was being persecuted and ridiculed by those with the constitutional right to provide security to the people, even as he reiterated his faith in God in the midst of the turbulence and his efforts to protect and defend his people.
“Today, for the persecution that I am going through, for doing what is right then, I have become a target. For saying that ‘look, enough is enough, stone age laws should be repealed, even if they were laws or if they were policies, we should discard them because they will not help us.
“The truth is that I felt so sad when the Minister of Defence and followed by the IG (Inspector-General) of Police) were acting the script of Miyetti Allah, instead of doing their jobs that they are collecting tax payers money for every month.”
“How can you say that it is the Prohibition of Open Grazing and Provision of Ranching Law 2017 in Benue State that has brought those killings?” the governor said.
He noted that the Fulani herdsmen were killing people in states that had no anti open grazing law, adding that, “this law is a necessity, arising from the killings taking place and for us, we sought to bring a permanent solution to the perennial problem of herdsmen and farmers clashes.”
He argued that the lack of action against the perpetrators of the killings was deliberate as the promoters of the violence were known to law enforcement agencies.
He commended the media for highlighting the plight of Benue people in the hands of the marauding herdsmen and called for a change of heart from security agencies to bring the problem to a complete stop.
Ortom said: “So, it is not about the law. It is deliberate. We live in a country where people will come out in the name of Miyetti Allah and and issue threats that they are coming to attack, that they will mobilize people to invade the land and take over the land. And even when you report to the authorities, no action is taken and they expect you to keep quiet.
“When you are a leader elected by the people and they are looking unto you for protection, what do you expect me to do? I should speak.
“And of course, when I speak, the media is able to alert the whole world and today, the whole world appreciates the magnitude of the problem that am going through.
“How can you live in a state and you have seven IDP camps hosting more than 100,000 people and 60 percent of these people are children who should be in their schools.
“They are being denied their legitimate right, which we as leaders are supposed to give them, because of the non-performance of people who are saddled with sensitive responsibilities in this country to provide security for lives and property.
“So, it is painful and really unfortunate and I expect those people who are responsible for enforcing the laws of our land and ensuring security for lives and property who have demonstrated incompetence because of what is going on…take for instance, the president directed the IG of Police to relocate to Benue state to ensure that these killings stop.
“The IG came here one day and left and he is sitting in Abuja and he has chosen to send his PPRO (Police Public Relations Officer) to be insulting me on Channels Television for doing what is right and for him not doing his job.”