February 7, 2018

Herdsmen killings: Defend yourselves, Gov Ortom tells Benue people

Herdsmen killings: Defend yourselves, Gov Ortom tells Benue people


•Says IGP now mouthpiece of Miyetti Allah; his life threatened
•You’re a drowning man, Force PRO tells Ortom; I’m not — Gov
•Buhari, in Nasarawa, warns against reprisal attacks

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Peter Duru

MAKURDI—Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, yesterday, asked people of the state to use all legal means to defend themselves against further attacks from herdsmen, saying the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who ought to protect lives and property was busy playing politics with the issue.


The governor gave the charge on a phone-in radio programme in Makurdi on a day spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force, Jimoh Moshood, described him as a drowning man on a live Channels Television programme, Sunrise.

Ortom, who also alleged that his life was being threatened, said he had yet to assess the extent of damage done to his farm house by herdsmen on Monday.

This came as President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday in Lafia, Nasarawa State, warned against reprisal attacks, in the wake of herdsmen attacks in communities across the country.

Speaking on the live radio programme, Governor Ortom said the call for the people to defend themselves became necessary because the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris who, should enforce security and safety of the people was playing politics with the unending killings in the state, and becoming the mouthpiece of the murderers of Benue people.

On the IGP

He said:  “The Police said they arrested Livestock Guard members and termed them a militia group from Benue. It’s just a diversion from the main issue.

“If you want to hang a dog, you give it a bad name. That is what the Inspector General of Police is doing, he is the mouthpiece of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore. That is what the man represents. He should, therefore, resign his current position to serve full time in his new job.

“So bad, they plant weapons on people and take their pictures and claim they are Benue Livestock Guards. Those people are not members of our Livestock Guard. It is just a planned thing.

“The fact is that I am facing a lot of intimidation and blackmail but I am firm and strong because I have trust in God.

“There are threats, even on my life, it is on record that I reported to the Police and those people responsible have not been arrested.

“People say they are going to kill the governor. Is that not grievous enough to arrest the people concerned?

“Miyetti came out and owned up and threatened that bloodshed will continue in Benue. Is it not enough evidence for the Inspector-General of Police to arrest one person out of the group?

“Fulani militia have come out in video to display the kind of weapons that they have and everyone has seen it; that is also not enough for the IGP to arrest these people.

“But he chose to declare that we have militia in Benue State. If we have militia in the state, will the herdsmen come and kill our people the way they did and are currently doing?

“It is because we are law- abiding. But you need to listen and hear the opinion of the people of the state on the matter.

“I think the people should have the right to defend themselves and not make themselves easy prey to be killed in their homes.

Defend yourselves lawfully

“So any lawful means you can adopt to defend yourself in Benue State, just go ahead. We are not going to wait for the Inspector-General of Police to do it because he has failed in his assignment.

“I commiserate with the families of the Police personnel who came here and were killed by the herdsmen. It is unfortunate, the Police are dying and the Inspector-General of Police is playing politics with the issue.  It is unfortunate.

“The man should resign because he has failed woefully. He doesn’t have the capacity. There are many good Police officers who can take over that job and perform creditably by turning around the security architecture of this country and make things work and protect lives and property. That man has no business being the IGP.”

Reacting to the comment by the Force Public Relations Officer, Chief Superintendent Jimoh Moshood, describing him (the governor) as a drowning man who should resign his position, Governor Ortom said:  “Between me who is doing the will of the people and the IGP who is failing in his responsibilities, who should resign?

“It is the IGP that has failed to do the right thing that should be called a drowning man, it is the IGP that should resign.

“It is embarrassing, they are insulting me and insulting Nigerians; it is the IGP who is the chief enforcer of the law that has refused to enforce the law and has turned around to accuse me.

“I am not a drowning man; I am doing what I was elected to do.  Over 99 per cent of Benue people are with me, I’m acting their script, so nobody should try to intimidate me.”

On the attack on his farm house by suspected herdsmen last Monday, Governor Ortom said: “Well, it is just one thing among so many things that have happened to the people of Guma and Logo local governments. Unwarranted attacks had been going on. Everyday, killings and attacks are going on.

“You know that my farm is close to Gbajimba, the headquarters of Guma Local Government. And if the herdsmen can come as far as that place to invade and attack, it is obviously a source of worry. Though I’m yet to value and assess the damage because my farm manager and workers ran for their lives, we will do that at the right time.”

Dusk-to-dawn curfew lifted

Meanwhile, the state government has lifted the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on Gboko last week, following the murder of seven persons in the area.

Governor Ortom announced the decision at a meeting he held with leaders of Benue Motorcycle Association across the state and heads of security agencies at Government House.

The governor reiterated his condemnation of the killings at Gboko motor park but maintained that the victims were not Fulani people as reported in some quarters.

“I insist that the criminals who carried out the condemnable act should be apprehended and prosecuted,” he said.

He urged the people not to take the laws into their hands but report infringements on their rights to the appropriate authorities.

Vanguard recalls that the curfew was imposed on Gboko town on January 31, following security threats in the area.

A drowning man

Meanwhile, the friction between the state government and the Nigeria Police Force took a dramatic twist yesterday, as the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, described Governor Samuel Ortom as a drowning man.

Moshood had engaged the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Terver Akase, in a heated argument over series of violence that had led many to their early graves since the beginning of the year.

Both officials had featured as guests on Channels Television’s  Sunrise Daily.

Responding to a question by the anchor on the governor’s call for the IGP to resign for failing to stop killings in the state, the police spokesman said:

“That is why we felt you don’t join issues with a drowning man.”

This did not, however, go down well with the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the governor, Mr. Terver Akase, who interrupted the police spokesman with a strong rebuttal, demanding a retraction of the statement.

“The Governor of Benue State is not a drowning man. He (Police spokesman) has to withdraw that statement. The governor of Benue was popularly elected and he is not a drowning man,” the CPS insisted.

The state government and the police authorities seem not to be on the same page on recent killings that have also displaced many indigenes.

While the Police seem to have credited itself to having restored peace in the troubled state, the state government, on the contrary, is calling for the immediate sack or resignation of the Inspector-General of Police.

The Police spokesman argued that the governor’s call on the IGP to resign was an affront on the Police chief  and the entire Police force.

He said:  “It is a great disservice to the Inspector General of Police and the entire Nigeria Police Force for the governor to call for his resignation. The governor should resign first.

“What he has said, the document presented to the Senate is for action by the Senate, and nobody can make any part or complete document public until the Senate makes a decision on it and passes a resolution.”

But defending his principal, Akase wondered why the IGP should not resign when the Police under his leadership, had failed to secure lives and properties as enshrined in the Police Act.

He explained that Section 4 of the Police Act, gave the Police the duty to protect lives and maintain law and order.

Akase, however, regretted a situation where the Police would seek clearance from the authorities in Abuja before taking any decisive action.

Buhari warns against reprisal attacks

Apparently reacting to the spate of killings by herdsmen across the country, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday warned victims of herdsmen attacks not to engage in reprisal attacks, saying he had mobilised resources to bring an end  to the unnecessary killings.

The President also said he had directed all the security agencies to arrest and prosecute any person found with illegal arms.

Speaking while commissioning the Comprehensive Special School, Lafia, Nasarawa State, President Buhari advised victims of suspected herdsmen attacks not to engage in reprisals as he sought to reassure the people of North-Central, home to most of the victims of the deadly attacks, that his administration would not tolerate the barbaric acts.

He said the Federal Government is working hard to ensure that peace and stability return to the region, adding that additional resources have already been deployed to all the affected areas to end the crisis and maintain law and order.

He said: “I also want to assure the people of the North-Central and, indeed, all Nigerians that the Federal Government is working day and night to ensure peace and stability returns.

“We have deployed additional resources to all the affected areas to maintain law and order.  The attacks by suspected herdsmen and other bandits will not be tolerated.

“I appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from reprisal attacks. The security agencies have standing orders to arrest and prosecute any and all persons found with illegal arms.  I will, once again, express my condolences and sympathy to all the affected victims of these barbaric acts.”

Man transporting firearms to Benue arrested in Jigawa

Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had intercepted a man transporting firearms to Benue state.

Oko Michael, Deputy Commander of Jigawa State NDLEA, confirmed that the suspect was arrested in the state on February 4, while the operatives were on normal operation around Jahun – Gujungu Road.

According to Michael, the suspect, identified as Salisu Mahmuda, was in possession of three locally fabricated firearms.

“The suspect, identified as Salisu Mahmuda was arrested on Sunday, February 4, 2018, with  three locally fabricated firearms (two locally made revolver pistols, one cut-to-size revolver rifle) with five-rounds of live ammunition,” Michael said.

The suspect, believed to be an indigene of Kaduna State, said he attended a school in Nasarawa where he later engaged in the collection of discarded metals between the state and Benue.

He alleged that a Tiv man and another Fulani man ordered the firearms.

He added that a schoolmate of his in Nasarawa linked him to a man in Labara village, Kano, who fabricated the arms for him.

“I am able to come down here through a friend of mine whom we schooled together in Nasarawa. He is the one that led me to the man that manufactured the firearms in Laraba village,” Mahmuda was quoted to have said.

The anti-drug agency said the suspect and recovered items would be transferred to the state police command for further investigation.

In January, a helicopter said to be loaded with arms and ammunition reportedly landed in a village in Taraba state.