Governor Samuel Ortom
..accuses group of 52 Fulani personalities of spitting on graves of 6,000 killed Benue indigenes
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State says he has become a target for blackmail and elimination by the enemies of the state kicking against the ranching law enacted by his government.
He however said he would not be intimidating stressing that he is prepared to lay down his life in the course of defending the state assuring that the people, individuals and groups pushing for the repeal of the ranching law were wasting their time.
The Governor who Thursday addressed the media in Makurdi on a said petition to the Presidency by 52 personalities of Fulani extraction led by the deposed Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi, said the group leveled all manner of accusations against him in a desperate attempt to set him up for hatred, vilification and attacks.
He said “the group which refused to give itself a name, accused me of being responsible for the recent killing of some pastoralists at Akwanaja, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State via a bomb attack. They tried to link the Benue State Livestock Guards with the killings, claiming that the pastoralists were bombed on their way from Benue to Nasarawa after they had retrieved their cattle. The group maliciously accused me of carrying out genocide against pastoralists.
“The dethroned Emir Sanusi did not stop at that. He made a video in Hausa in which he maligned me and called on all Fulanis to consider me as their enemy while urging those in Benue State to vote against me during the coming elections.
“I consider these allegations and blackmail targeted at my person and the Government of Benue State as part of a grand conspiracy by enemies of the state to eliminate me. Since 2017 when we enacted the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, I have escaped seven assassination attempts. Those behind the evil plots have not hidden their motive. They have made me an enemy for choosing to stand with my people and defending their rights to life and freedom.
“The recent utterances of some personalities such as Lamido Sanusi have revealed the true identities of those behind the sinister agenda to eliminate me. But my life is in the hands of God and only He can permit anything evil to come my way.
The Governor who defended the activities of the Benue Livestock Guards said they do not rustle cattle but “operate within the boundaries of Benue State and are not permitted by law to bear arms. Their function is to help conventional security agencies in enforcing the law which protects both the farmer and the herder. The Guards have become target of attacks by armed herdsmen with many of them killed in cold blood.
“Let me remind those castigating me unjustifiably that nomadic herdsmen attacks on farmers in Benue state date back to 2009; however, 2011 was when the attacks assumed a dreadful dimension with widespread killings, injury and displacement of farmers from their ancestral homes.
“Benue State came under attack nearly 50 times before the law was enacted. My predecessor, Senator Gabriel Suswam was nearly killed by Fulani herdsmen in 2014 at Uikpan on his way to Torkula village in Guma Local Government Area to see the damage caused by herdsmen in the community.”
Speaking on the coming of the Benue Grazing law, the Governor said “the law was enacted by representatives of the people in the Benue State House of Assembly, in exercise of its powers as provided for by Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”
While recalling how armed herdsmen invaded and killed close to 100 persons in the state in 2018 new year’s eve, he said said “Fulani herdsmen attacks on my peo…
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