•Says Buhari hasn’t visited Benue after New Year killing of 73 people
•Alleges that Miyetti Allah press statements were being issued from Abuja
•Adds hersdsmen activities beyond grazing; just a continuation of jihad
By Sunday Nwafor with Agency Report
MAKURDI—Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said there would be no campaigns for the 2019 elections in the state, if there was no solution to the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state.
Speaking in an interview on an online TV programme, The Osasu Show, in Makurdi, Benue State, the governor said he invited President Buhari to console the people of the state over the killings and destruction of their property but lamented that the President did not honour the invitation.
He said, as President, Buhari was supposed to provide citizens of the country with security but had failed to take the required action to curb the killings.
He said: “For now, my primary concern is to stop these killings; to ensure that the IDPs go back to their homes and live peacefully. Once that is done, we can talk about other things.
“I don’t care about what happens tomorrow. Even if I am not governor, I can stay back and fight for the right of my people.
“When we visited, we even invited the President to come to Benue State and pay his condolences to his people. We are members of the party (All Progressives Congress, APC,), he is our President. If these people are attacking us, we expect him to give us security.
“He has done a number of things. He directed NEMA to provide relief materials; he also asked for security to be beefed up, but I am not satisfied with what the Presidency is doing on this matter. There is no doubt about that. I ask for justice for Benue people because we have not been treated fairly.”
Ortom said the attacks on Benue was an act of vengeance by herders for losing the 1804 Jihad, stressing that Benue people stopped them from penetrating the state through Sokoto.
He said though he did not know the level of “support the herders get from the Presidency”, he was sure that the press statements by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association were issued by people living in Abuja.
“These people have gone beyond grazing, it is about invading the land and taking over. All the places they have attacked, they have chased the people away and they are using their farmlands’ produce as feed for their cattle.
“They are conducting international conferences, issuing press releases and writing on social media and they have come out to say look, in 1804 Jihad, it was Benue people that stopped them from penetrating from Sokoto to the sea.
“This time around, they are not going to stop. They will make sure that they mobilise all Fulani men across the globe, especially from the West African sub-region to ensure that they acquire arms and come and invade and take over the land.
“Because they also said Nigeria is the only land that God has given them, so no other person will supervene on this land except them; that it is their own land, they got this land by conquest and we have no business staying on this land. It is unbelievable. The statement is coming from Miyetti Allah.
“Well, I wouldn’t know about their patrons or the extent of their involvement. But one thing I know is that the people that have been issuing these press statements are known. They are living in Abuja, they are living with the powers-that-be,” Governor Ortom said.
Asked why he has not met with the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, and Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, to call the herders to order, Ortom said it was the responsibility of the Federal Government to enforce the law.
“Why will I sit down with them? We have constituted authority over this country. And it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to enforce the law. We expected them to have acted,” the governor said.
Governor Ortom had been at daggers-drawn with the Federal Government since herdsmen killed no fewer than 73 indigenes of the state on new year day.
The relationship between both governments was further soured by the remarks of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who, without any investigation, had concluded that the killing was a result of communal clash, though he recanted later, and the Defence Minister, Mansur Dan Ali, who blamed the killings in Benue State on the anti-open grazing law enacted by the state government.
Since the new year day killings in the state, there had been several others, including those of policemen and operatives of the civil defence corps.