By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, an umbrella organization of herdsmen has vowed to mobilize its members across the country to unseat Governor Samuel Ortom in the coming 2019 general election.
The group maintained that its members would rally support for any governorship candidate who would ensure their safety and protect their business interest in the state.
In a statement signed by the National President of FUNAM, Alhaji Salisu Ahmadu and Secretary, Umar Shehu, the group accused the Governor of conniving with personnel of ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ to chase them out of Benue.
The statement read in part, “We are aware that Governor Ortom is not only in support of the inhuman treatment and callous attacks on our members, but he is the major source of financial and logistical supports to the soldiers who are out to eliminate us from the state.
“Our helpless members have lost thousands of cows in the last ten months that the ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ came into effect in Benue State.
“The sad reality is that the Governor, after failing to use the Anti-Open Grazing Law to prevent us from carrying out our lawful business in his state, has now found an ally in the Nigerian Military who should be neutral at all times.
“We also want to make it clear that we shall mobilize our members across the country and embark on an indefinite strike, stopping the sell of beef and other diary products if the harassment in Benue is not stopped immediately.
“We also urge our members in Benue State to ensure that they participate in the electoral process by voting to reject Governor Ortom in the forthcoming election.
“Our members need to stay in the Benue Valley and ply their trade, hence the need to support whoever promises to accept us as the good neighbours that we are.
But in a swift reaction, Governor Ortom through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase described the allegation as spurious, shocking and unfortunate.
Ortom maintained that the Benue grazing law was a product of the people of the state which was enacted to ensure lasting peace between herders and farmers and should be respected by everyone residing in the state. “So, it is unfortunate that the group could come out with such allegation.
This is because the Governor, as chief security officer of the state, had not gone beyond his constitutional mandate. His job is to support security agencies to provide safety for the people and their property.
“Therefore, he has supported ‘Operations Whirl Stroke’ and other security agencies to provide security, it is unfortunate that people would sit somewhere and claim harassment by government.