Ortom interview: Channels TV team meets with NBC in Abuja

…Akume, Ebute, Gemade, APC demand state of emergency

Ask EFCC to probe Ortom’s security vote

Akume, others’ call for state of emergency in Benue shocking — Ortom

Says EFCC, ICPC probe should start from missing N2bn in Akume’s govt

Unongo backs Ortom, cautions those castigating him to desist

By Peter Duru & Omeiza Ajayi

Influential members of Benue State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, in Abuja weighed in on the security situation in the state and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately take steps to declare a state of emergency.

Those who converged on the Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre and Suites, venue of the meeting to deliberate on the state of affairs in Benue include former Senate President, Ameh Ebute; Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, who addressed the gathering; Gen. Garba, Prof. John Enyi, John Ochoga and Gen. Harrison Egaga.

Others include Sen. Barnabas Gemade; former Deputy Governor, Chief Stephen Lawani; daughter of former Senate President, David Mark, and federal lawmaker, Blessing Onuh; Usman Abubakar (Young Alhaji); Commandant General of Nigeria Peace Corps, Dickson Akoh; the state leadership of the APC and a host of other stakeholders.

They warned the state governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, against further verbal attacks on President Buhari, saying the governor was on his own.

But Governor Samuel Ortom in a swift reaction, described as shocking the call by a former two-term governor of the state and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, who led others for a call on state of emergency to be declared in Benue.

Addressing the gathering, Sen. Akume faulted what he called the “messianic pretensions of Governor Ortom with regard to an alleged Islamization and Fulanization agenda” of the Buhari administration.

He said: “We, the stakeholders of Benue State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, are alarmed at the lonesome bitter and sustained campaign of calumny launched by Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, on the person and office of our President, Muhammadu Buhari.

“This unwarranted and ill-motivated attack has been going on for over one year now, and it seems President Buhari’s silence and incredible display of magnanimity to the governor and the people of Benue State have not been enough to pacify the governor.

“We recognise Ortom’s right as a free citizen of our country to air his views and promote them wherever he wants, but we also expect him as an elected governor to be conscious that his public statements are weighty enough to be construed as the general opinion of the people of Benue State.

“We cannot, however, stand by and watch this brazen show of shame by the governor through infantile and irresponsible public statements on Mr. President and the possible destruction of the cordial relationship Benue State as a federating unit, has always enjoyed with the centre.”

Ask EFCC, ICPC to probe Ortom’s security vote

They equally invited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate the state, especially with respect to how the governor has continued to spend his security votes.

They said: “We call on Governor Samuel Ortom to tender an unreserved apology to President Muhammadu Buhari for using foul language and operating outside the set rules of engagement between the state and the federal government.

“We call on the EFCC and ICPC to thoroughly investigate the application of the total federal allocations to Benue State from May 29, 2015, to date.

State’s Livestock Guards, gov’s militia

“He has created a personal army of criminals called the Livestock Guards whose job is to hunt down political enemies and help him win elections. His earlier attempts to hobnob with other set of criminals led him to an ill-fated amnesty programme with bandits in Sankera area, which he claimed was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.

‘’The security situation in Benue State is so dire that a group of bandits were able to disarm and kill an officer and men of the Nigerian Army, who were on peace keeping mission. The proliferation of small arms in Benue State is alarming and deserves immediate action from the centre.

“The Federal Government should as a matter of urgency direct the disbandment of the Livestock Guards in Benue State for their involvements in nefarious and criminal activities leading to the breach of peace and massacre of innocent citizens of Benue State.’’

EFCC, ICPC probe should start from missing N2bn in Akume’s govt

Reacting to the call for a state of emergency on Benue yesterday, Governor Samuel Ortom expressed shock, asking the EFCC and ICPC to start the probe called by Akume and others on his (Akume) government over N2 billion fraud during his administration in the state.

Governor Ortom in a statement signed his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said: “As expected, Senator Akume and his group avoided responding to the issues of insecurity in the country, which the governor has repeatedly and rightly accused the Presidency of complicity.

“The outing of George Akume and others in Abuja was nothing more than a massage on the ego of the Presidency to curry personal favours. As long as he and his group secure their meal tickets, Benue can go to hell. A media attack on Governor Ortom instantly attracts a package from the Villa.

READ ALSO: Unongo backs Ortom, cautions those castigating Benue Governor to desist

“Akume and his group must have been under immense pressure to hold the press conference and hurl vituperation on the governor. This, they had to do to keep their jobs.

“The leadership of APC in Benue, having lost grip of the party membership in the state, with hundreds defecting to PDP every week, now see a window of opportunity to relaunch themselves into relevance.

“As a two-term former governor of Benue State, it is shocking that Akume is now calling for the declaration of state of emergency in the state to dismantle democratic structures.

“We challenge the minister to provide evidence to back his claim that the governor is involved in corruption and sponsors militia.”

“On his call for a probe, we have no objection to that. Governor Ortom is running a transparent administration and has nothing to hide. We, however, invite Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to begin their probe from 1999 when Akume became governor.

Unongo backs Ortom, cautions those castigating him to desist

Meanwhile, elder statesman and former Minister of Steel in the Second Republic, Paul Unongo, has cautioned those castigating Governor Samuel Ortom for speaking out against herdsmen attacks in his state and worsening insecurity in the country to refrain from their actions.

The former Chairman of Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF, said the Benue governor had not done anything outside his constitutional duties and had not descended to inciting crisis in the country as being alleged by the Presidency.

Unongo, who spoke at Benue stakeholders’ meeting in Makurdi, yesterday, said the message the governor had consistently passed across to President Buhari and the entire country was that Benue communities were being attacked by suspected armed herdsmen and that the development was becoming unbearable.

He said the Benue governor was only doing what every man with the thought of his people at heart would do.

He said: “I will advise those who are painting the picture that Ortom is fighting a personal or political war with the President to desist forthwith.”

“Ortom is only doing what every man with the thoughts of his people at heart will do. The best thing is for Mr. President to listen to Ortom without a bias mind. Those who are trying to paint Ortom bad before the President are really doing him the President more damage.”

The elder statesman said both Ortom and Buhari were constitutional creations and it would only paint a dictatorial tone if the   President opted for intimidation and blackmail, instead of setting aside bias in order to listen to the governor.

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