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Fulani Herdsmen Plotting To Kill Me – Ortom |The Republican News

By Cephas Iorhemen

 

Samuel-Ortom1

Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom

…reconciles with Suswam

  • Ajimobi orders arrest of killer herders

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday raised the alarm over an alleged fresh plot by a group of herdsmen under the auspices of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to attack and kill him.

The governor, who disclosed this while speaking with journalists in his office at the Government House, identified former MACBAN Coordinator in the state, Alhaji Garus Gololo, as the alleged leader of the killer herdsmen, which he said have been threatening his life.

Ortom said he had reported the planned attack on him to security operatives. He expressed optimism that the killer herdsmen will not succeed as God who gives and takes life is with him and cannot die in the hands of Fulani herders who are against him for promulgating the anti-open grazing law.

“There are threats to my life and I have reported that to the security agencies that one Gaurus Gololo and his team, who are members of MACBAN, are planning to attack me. But I always said life belongs to God.

It is God that gives and takes life. So, my life is not in the hands of any Fulani man who is not happy with the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in the state.” Herdsmen recently attacked and destroyed Ortom’s farmhouse in Gbajimba, Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.

Meanwhile, the governor yesterday reconciled with his predecessor, Dr Gabriel Suswam, whom he has not seen eye-to-eye with since assumption of office about three years ago.

The gesture, according to the governor, is for the common good and development of the state. This followed a reconciliatory meeting convened at the instance of paramount ruler of the Tiv nation, the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, to mediate in the protracted face-off between the two politicians of Tiv extraction.

The peace meeting, which took place at the palace of the Tor Tiv, started about 5p.m. last Sunday and spilt over to the early hours of yesterday. In attendance were traditional rulers from both Sankera and Minda geopolitical axis from where the ex-governor and his successor hail from.

Although, journalists were barred from the meeting, sources privy to the discussions disclosed to New Telegraph that the Tiv monarch expressed deep sadness over the continued disagreement between the two illustrious Tiv sons, whom he said are supposed to be attracting development to their people instead of being at loggerheads, hence the need to hear from both sides and reconcile them.

Suswam, it was learnt, had told the Tor Tiv that when he handed over to Ortom in 2015, he told him to feel free to approach him on any issue concerning his government, but what followed was the setting up of a panel to probe him and noted that the panel came out with frivolous allegations against him and that the governor went ahead and reported him to the EFCC and ICPC while all his appointees were sacked.

But Ortom, the source said, denied ever petitioning the two anti-graft agencies on Suswam. The governor also said he did not detail the EFCC and ICPC to seize Suswam’s property, stressing that “they are doing that as part of their duty.”

Speaking with journalists on the outcome of the meeting in his office yesterday, Ortom said he personally agreed to put behind his animosity against his predecessor and work together for peace and development of the state.

He quoted the Tor Tiv as attributing some of the challenges confronting his administration to their inability to synergise and work together as a team. According to him, the monarch stressed the need for them to bury their hatchets and contribute their quota to the development of the state and Tiv nation in particular.

“The meeting was convened at the instance of the Tor Tiv and I was there, former governor Gabriel Suswam was also there and, principally, it was a peace meeting. The Tor Tiv told us he noticed that for a while, the relationship between me and that of the former governor is not good and he needed us as his Tiv prominent sons to work together, that whatever is our differences, we should sheathe our swords and work together for the common good of the people of Benue State.

“He also attributed some of the challenges we are having today in Benue as a result of our inability to synergise and work together as a team and we agreed to work together to see how we can make Benue better than where we are,” the governor said. Ortom debunked claims that the reconciliation was because of 2019 political calculations, saying for now he has suspended all political activities pending when the killings by Fulani herdsmen is put to rest and thousands of internally displaced persons return to their ancestral homes.

In another development, Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has directed security agencies to begin the immediate arrest and prosecution of Fulani herdsmen caught carrying guns and other dangerous weapons across the state.

The governor gave the directive at a stakeholders’ meeting aimed at dousing the tension triggered by the incessant herdsmen-farmers clash, which was attended by the representatives of farmers, Fulani herdsmen, security agencies and other stakeholders, at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Ibadan. Ajimobi also directed the immediate registration of herdsmen and possibly their cattle to separate genuine pastoralists from criminal-minded herders, as well as the convocation of a monthly stakeholders’ meeting at the state and local government levels.

Besides, the governor said that a surveillance unit would be created under the Oyo State Joint Security Outfit, Operation Burst, to curtail the menace of cattle rustlers, murderous herdsmen and farmers who may take the laws into their own hands by poisoning cattle grazing on farmlands. He said: “Fulani people are good people; if not I will not allow my only son to marry a Fulani lady. We must separate criminals from the good people.

“Why will a herdsman be carrying a gun? Henceforth, any herdsman found with guns should be arrested and prosecuted. Owners of cattle found grazing on farmlands and destroying crops should also be arrested and prosecuted. Any farmer that poison cattle should also be arrested and prosecuted.” Also, the Tor Tiv has pledged the support of the traditional rulers and the entire people of Benue to the Nigerian Army as its conducts Exercise Ayem Akpatuma – Cat Race in the state.

“We welcome the exercise. We believe it will help peace to return to Benue which has suffered series of attacks from herdsmen,” the traditional ruler said as he received the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai yesterday.

He, however, said the people were apprehensive of the exercise, recalling the clashes between the army and Tiv people at Zakibiam in the past and called for adequate enlightenment on the exercise. Ayatse said that the herdsmen attacks which affected Guma, Logo, Gwer West, Makurdi, Kwande, Katsina-Ala and Agatu Local Government Areas of the state had resulted in the loss of lives, property and farmlands.                   (New Telegraph)

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Concentrate On Affairs In Your State, Ortom Tells Lalong |The Republican News

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                       Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom

John Charles, Makurdi

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has told his counterpart in Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, to ‘mind his own business’ and not to interfere with the issue of Benue.

Ortom handed this warning to the representative of Lalong at the stakeholders’ meeting with the National Economic Council Technical Committee on Herdsmen/Farmers’ Crises Resolution.

The stakeholders were led by the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi.

Ortom said his deputy, Benson Abounu, informed him about the discussion between him and Lalong, where the Plateau State Governor reiterated his warning to Ortom not to go ahead with the Benue State anti-open grazing law.

Ortom said, “My deputy told me that he had a discussion with Lalong recently at a function, where he (Lalong) said that he had to apologise to me over his statement because of pressure on him, saying, he stands by his earlier statement.

“He also told the people that he introduced this woman (pointing at the woman on the high table) in this committee to me, whereas, this woman was introduced to me by Nasir el-Rufai, not him.

“Thank God he has a representative here; please tell him to stop interfering with the affairs of my state; let him mind his business in Plateau and I will mind my own business here.

Related: I’m Determined To Implement Solutions For National Security Problems – Buhari

“I am the governor here (Benue); how can he say that he warned me? Who is he to warn me? He can only advise me.”

Lalong had at the peak of the herdsmen’s attacks on Benue State told newsmen in Abuja that he warned Ortom against the new law.

The stakeholders’ meeting held at the new banquet hall of the state government house on Sunday night.

The meeting, which dragged into the early hours of Monday, had in attendance some National Assembly members, religious leaders, traditional rulers and opinion moulders.

Speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of the Benue State Traditional Council, HRM Prof. James Ayatse, questioned the credibility of the committee since some of its members had at one time or the other taken position on the Benue crisis.

According to him, the governors of Plateau and Kaduna State – Lalong and El-Rufai, respectively – had made cynical statements concerning the crisis and asked, ‘how do we get justice?’

Related: Benue Killings: Missing Policeman Found Dead, Corpse Mutilated |The Republican News

“While in pains, a Benue delegation visited President Buhari and the only consolation he could give us was to say, ‘In the name of God, accommodate your fellow countrymen.’ With this statement, how will my people get justice?”

The paramount ruler charged the committee members to be neutral and discharge their responsibility with the fear of God.

Other who spoke at the meeting included the Catholic Bishop, Makurdi Diocese, Wilfred Anagbe; a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mike Aondoaka, (SAN); and a former commissioner in the state, Mrs. Rebecca Akpedzan.

Others were the President General, Mdzough U Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Benard Hon; the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Benue State, Rev. Akpen Negua, and a second-class traditional ruler, Chief A. Abomtse.

All the speakers condemned what they termed the lacklustre attitude of the Federal Government to the crisis and insisted that there was no going back on the new law. (Punch)

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Benue Killings: Only Justice Can Make Me Keep Quiet – Ortom |The Republican News

• Confirms policeman, farmer killed in fresh herdsmen attack in Guma

Rose EjembiMakurdi

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has asked those who are complaining that he is talking too much about the killing of his people by suspected herdsmen to give him justice,  vowing that only justice can make him keep quiet on the matter.

This is even as the Governor confirmed that two persons including a policeman were killed and several others  missing after herdsmen attacked Guma Local Government area of the state between Wednesday and early hours of Thursday.

He said: “People who are saying that I am talking too much should give me justice and I will keep quiet. These people are not just grazing but are coming to take over our land. And they want me to keep quiet. How can I keep quiet? As long as there is no justice, I will continue to shout, talk and sing.”

The Governor who played host to former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso at the government House in Makurdi yesterday disclosed that, “as I talk to you, Benue is still under siege. Even security agents that were sent are being killed by these people. Only yesterday, somebody from my local government was slaughtered and burnt. That is the new dimension to the killings.”

Ortom who lamented that the attack was happening at the time the farmers were harvesting their crops maintained that the onslaught was not just about land for grazing but a coordinated attack to impoverish the people and ensure that the state did not live up to its name as the food basket of the nation.

“Benue remains the food basket of the nation. This is happening at a time the farmers are harvesting their crops. We look forward that the resolution of the senate would be implemented. These people are not just grazing but are coming to take over our land,” Ortom noted.

Earlier, Senator Kwankwaso who led members of his Kwankwasiya Foundation to pay a condolence visit to the government and people of Benue condemned the January 1 attack in which over 70 people were killed.

“We are here to condole with the government and entire people of the state over the loss of 73 people. I join the good people of the country to condemn those who perpetuated the killings and similar acts in Nasarawa, Taraba, Adamawa and other states of the country. I believe it’s time leaders join hands to condemn the act and ensure such acts doesn’t happen again in the country,” the governor said.

Kwankwaso who also announced a donation of 1,200 bags of rice to the over 80,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are now placed in six camps in the state urged the federal government and security agencies to ensure that the unwarranted killings across the country is stopped.   (The Sun)

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Obey Benue Laws Or Go To Jail, Gov. Ortom Tells Fulani Herdsmen |RN

Samuel-Ortom1

Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom

Benue State prides itself as the food basket of the nation. With abundant farm produce in every nook and cranny, its claim is barely in doubt. But, no thanks to the bloody attacks of cattle herders, many indigenes of the state are discouraged, these days, from going to the farm. In this interview with HENRY AKUBUIRO at the Benue State capital, Governor Samuel Ortom calls on the cattle herders to abide by the new state law on ranching as a way of providing lasting peace in the agrarian state or risk jail. Besides, against the backdrop of mounting responsibilities for state governments in the federation, the governor reiterated that more allocations should be channeled to the states than the Federal Government receives at the moment.

Some state governors are calling for greater allocations from the Federal Government as against what they get at the moment, in fact, to get more than what the centre is getting. How would a state like Benue react to this?

You see, the Federal Government, apart from Abuja that it manages, every other thing in the thirty-six states is managed by the states and, in fact, most times, Federal Government projects are duplication of what the states are doing, especially these constituency projects that you have all over from the National Assembly. You go to a community, and you have three clinics; what are they doing there? It doesn’t make sense. But we [governors] are in touch with the grassroots, with the people; we are here with them. They see us; we interact with them; and we have feedback from them on what they need. But we do not have that money to execute projects that will have direct impact on the people. And sometimes, for the projects sited by the Federal Government, no thorough work is done, no feasibility studies are done, and, especially, when there is no synergy with the state government, it becomes a big problem. So, you see that the burden of governance is more on the states than Federal Government. We will prefer a situation where the Federal Government is deeply involved in coordinating policies and coordinating uniformity and creating the enabling environment with the states so that we can function. When it comes to funding, the states need more than what the Federal Government needs.

You have just called on Nigerian writers to partner with you on advocacy for ranches for cattle herders, how far do you want this to go?

I want it to go to all the nooks and crannies of this country because the menace of herdsmen attack is not just on Benue people but it is on other Nigerians as well. We decided to champion the cause of restoring peace, orderliness and security for our own state, and I appreciate the fact that other states are already keying into this programme. That is a global best practice for cattle farming or livestock farming and by the way livestock or cattle farming is a business. You do it to get income to sustain yourself just like we here are farmers and we farm to sustain ourselves, so it should not be done at the detriment of other people. While we are living, we should also respect the rights of other people to live. It should not be at the expense of others, and so I would want this thing to go beyond Benue State, because when it happens to another state, I won’t be a happy man. I know what we suffered between 2012 and 2016. We have estimated that we lost more than N95 billion worth of goods and property, excluding human beings that died. N95 billion! If you go to the rural areas, you see schools, churches, hospitals, houses, farmlands, all that destroyed. In 2013, I lost my rice farm and farm implements. My ancestral home was razed; my entire village was razed; more than 50 people were killed in one day. So, this is a very big challenge.

For us to have arrived at sending an executive bill to the House of Assembly, we fasted and prayed, and God gave us that wisdom to have a permanent solution to this problem. Go to America; go to Europe; go to Asia; and even here in African, Kenya and Tanzania are doing it: ranching. I was in Swaziland, a small country, four years ago, and the country’s major earning is beef, but they ranch. So, why can’t we ranch in Nigeria? Where is the land with the upsurge of population? In the 1950s, when people argue that they had cattle routes and grazing areas, the question is:  “What was the total population of Nigeria? [It was] less than 40 million people. Today, in 2017, I can approximate it to be over 200 million, because the projection in 2012 was 170 million. So, by today, we should be over 200 million. But what is the land mass now?  What was it in 1950? It’s still 923, 000 square kilometres, even less with the ceding of Bakassi to the Cameroon. So, we have a lesser land mass than what used to obtain when we were less in population than now. So, it’s unfortunate that we have kept sealed lips and, honestly, I feel so sad; but I will continue to do what is right, as far as I know, as a person. Even if I die today, I know I have done the right thing. I am championing the cause of ensuring that we have ranching, which is the global best practice, and is the only solution. I have challenged herdsmen; I have challenged any one, including Miyetti Allah, that I am calling for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah, Kautal Hore, who took us to court for a law that we legitimately passed, and is threatening to invade our state. A law that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria permits us to put in place! A law that seeks to protect lives and property! A law that seeks to bring peace to our people! Then, you take us to court.

I have said that the security agencies should arrest them for threatening me and my state that they would make the law not to function. I am waiting to see who will trespass. I am waiting to see who will not respect that law in Benue State. I have said it, I am not forcing anyone to live in Benue State. If you want to do open grazing, you can go to any other state that land is available. For me, here we are farmers and we cannot pay salaries as at when due today, so we want to have food on the table for everyone, and we have massively encouraged our people to go into agriculture, and they have done that. There is no single hectare of land available for grazing in Benue State. If you want to stay in Benue State, we are not sending you away –you can stay, but if you have cattle, you must ranch them. If you don’t ranch, the law will catch up with you, and you will be sent to jail. There is no two ways about it. And we are not just talking about cattle –we are talking about livestock –so pigs, goats and all of them are all involved. So, I want as many Nigerians that can support us in advocacy and let people understand, because the misconception is that the law is targeting individuals or Fulani men or certain ethnic groups and so on; it’s not right. The law seeks to ensure peace for every one living in Benue State, including Fulani herdsmen and any other person whatsoever. We want peace. And so, if the herdsmen ranch, the law will protect them from cattle rustlers. There are stiff penalties waiting for cattle rustlers. So, we would appreciate this, whatever you can do within your powers, to reach out to many as are ready to listen to us –please, do –and I believe that God will bless you, because we have suffered enough, and we think that this law is the solution, and I have challenged anyone out there who think that there is a better option of ensuring peace and security for Benue State to bring it on the table. We are ready to call Benue stakeholders to review the whole thing again. But outside that, if they cannot challenge us with a superior policy that will restore peace, they should keep quiet and respect our views.

Why is it inevitable to hand over private schools to the owners as you have proposed?

We have to make adjustments to meet with the economic realities in which we have found ourselves today as a government. It’s no longer news that we cannot pay salaries as at when due, and we are trying to shelve  responsibilities that are making it impossible for us to pay salaries as at when due. If you go out there, private schools and mission schools are doing better than what government is doing, so why should we continue to sponsor them? That is the point. We have discussed with owners of schools, and that was our agreement with them. We feel that we are better off so that government can concentrate more on its schools instead of having half-baked graduates from these schools. We should concentrate on our schools and lay a sound foundation for our children. We want to go back to those days that government schools were respected –that is what motivated us and we are going to do it.

Can you achieve it within the time frame you set between now and January 2019?

It’s a process that we have to start. Others did not do it, but we want to do it. I think it’s the way out. Government schools will still continue, but if you want to go to a private school, you go there. Even as it is now, people are going to private schools so it doesn’t stop anything. We will continue.

How are you able to provide dividends of democracy against the backdrop of economic recession experienced in the country for quite some time?

We are prudent, and it has helped us. Here in Benue State, we are very prudent with the little resource we have. One, as a government that has the fear of God, we promised the people even before we came in that we would ensure truthfulness, equity, fairness, justice, transparency, accountability and selflessness. We are not looking at what we can get, but what we can impact on the people. And so that has guided us. Despite the challenges we have, the little that comes in –initially, things were not as bad as they are today, and we were able to channel to those projects. That is why we have impacted today on several communities. When it comes to education, today Benue State University has been paid up to date. When we came, they were on strike for months. We negotiated with them, and because of the attachment we have in promoting education and developing education, we have paid them up to date. At the primary school, we were able to secure N3.8 billion loan to match with UBEC and, today, we have N7.6 billion to promote primary education. Construction of new classroom blocks, provision of instructional materials, provision of desks and all that is going on all over the 276 council wards in Benue State. Some are completed; some are ongoing; some will soon be completed. We are renovating our secondary schools to bring them to a standard that our children will be proud.

In the health sector, we have been able to record milestones. The School of Nursing that was shut for five years have been resuscitated, regained accreditation just the same with College of Health Technology, Agasha, and for students of the College of Health Sciences at the Benue State University who were stagnated, medical students that were stagnated for 12 years, a course that could have been completed in six years, for 12  years they were there. It was this administration that came with the determination that ‘look we must put this behind us’. We went further and secured all that was needed to get the accreditation. We got it, and, as I talk to you, within two years, we have been able to graduate four sets of medical students who are now medical doctors –152 medical doctors from the Benue State University. On infrastructure, we have constructed several roads linking up communities in the state. We took over from the past administration many uncompleted road projects; we have been able to do some of them with the little resources we have. I can go on and on in empowerment and all that. In all sectors, we have tried. In electricity provision, we have done a lot, they are on record and I hope that the Media Adviser will give you a brochure that we published recently. So far, prudence has guided us and for us we are selfless, it’s not what we get, but it’s what we can do to impact on the people.

What is Benue doing to improve on rice production, given that it is a rice producing state, and there is a redirection at the federal level for us to be self-sustaining in rice production?

We have done so much since we came in two years ago. In fact, we were almost losing our honour as the food basket of the nation. When we came in we put agriculture top on our priority list and today we have gone back. We have been able to partner with the International Fund for Agriculture Development, IFAD, we paid all the counterpart funding that was needed and massively the impact of IFAD on Benue State agriculture is noticed in almost all the three senatorial districts. We have been able to provide fertilizer on time. We have been able to encourage the people to go back to agriculture, because that is one area that we have comparative advantage and, in the face of difficulties in funding, we feel that food should be on our table and, so, massively, we have encouraged our people. In rice production, we have done so well and we are willing to close the gaps. If you go out to various communities in Benue State, you will see massive rice cultivation and we are looking forward to a bountiful harvest this year. In soya beans production, we are doing very excellent at it. It is just the market that we are looking for. Maize, sesame seed, yam, and cassava are there.

In fact, Benue State is blessed. The land is arable, more than 98 percent of it, and with the River Benue and Katsina Ala passing through Benue, we are also taking advantage and encouraging our people that, now, that we have a law guiding that, the Fulani herdsmen will no longer be a threat to agriculture they should go back to the farm and not just restrict themselves to rainy season farming they should go into dry season farming taking advantage of the rivers we have in Benue State and the canals and the streams and, of course, some few dams and so, that is what we are doing. And that is why we have to thank God that we have a law in place now. We will no longer be molested when we go to farm. And I want to appreciate the real Miyetti Allah whom I invited and after explaining to them our predicament that look the land is no longer there, and I had offered to provide security and provide the mobility to take them round Benue State to see things for themselves, to see any area where there is one hectare of land for open grazing. And they appreciated it and embrace this law and advised their members accordingly that, truly, what the governor is saying is true, and it’s a reflection of what the people want. And so, we are very much appreciative to the Almighty God for giving us Benue State, for giving us, this land, and we are ready to not just feeding Nigeria; we are ready to feed Africa.   (The Sun)

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Fulani Herdsmen Group Drags Benue Gov’t to Court Over Anti-Grazing Law |RN

From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State disclosed, on Monday, that the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) has taken the state government to court in protest against the planned implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment law recently enacted as a panacea to herders/farmers clashes.

The Daily Sun gathered that the suit was instituted against the state at the Federal High Court in Abuja with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/527/2017 by Incorporated trustees of MAKH Social Cultural group, Alh. Abdullahi Bodejo and Engr. Saleh Alhassan through their counsel, Aliyu Ahmed and Associates.

Joined in the suit were the National Assembly, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Inspector General of Police (IGP), Benue State House of Assembly, Benue State Government, Attorney General of Benue State and the Benue State Commissioner of Police.

Governor Ortom, in a chat with newsmen at the Government House, in Makurdi, said as a law-abiding citizen, he was not disturbed by the decision of MAKH to frustrate his peace efforts through legal means, positing that the state was ready to meet the group in court.

The Governor who said he was awaiting the verdict of the court as to whether it was unlawful for him to initiate a bill for the law and send to the State House of Assembly or not, stressed that he believed in the rule of law and would never resort to violence in addressing security challenges.

He said the enactment of the law was part of his constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property including those of herdsmen, saying the bill sought the establishment of ranches not just for cattle, but for all livestock including pigs, goats and sheep.

Recall that Governor Ortom had, on May 31, this year, signed the Anti-Open Grazing law that was passed by the state’s House of  Assembly, a development which MAKH  had vowed to resist. (The Sun)

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Ortom Raises Alarm Over Impending ‘Massive Benue Invasion’ By Fulani Herdsmen

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Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

– Solicits people’s prayers to avert impending catastrophe

By Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortomof Benue State has raised the alarm over a planned invasion of the state by suspected herdsmen even as he urged Benue people to intensify prayers to avert the impending invasion.
The Governor, who spoke at the funeral service for the late Mama Atese Rebecca Terkpe at the NKST Church, Taraku in Gwer Local Government Area of the state, disclosed that from the security reports available to him, the herders have concluded plans to invade the state in order to subvert the implementation of the anti-open grazing law.
He explained further that according to security reports, Fulani herdsmen across the West African sub region were planning to invade the state even as he called on the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria to organize prayers and fasting for divine intervention.
Governor Ortom, who restated his stance that the anti-open grazing law remained the best solution for restoring peace between farmers and herders, enjoined the people of the state to support its implementation which he said was imperative.
While also appealing to the people to shun communal violence over land but rather resort to dialogue in the resolution of disputes, the Governor posited that lives and property lost during the crisis could not be replaced.
He described the deceased as a God fearing woman who raised her offspring in the fear of God and also impacted positively on her society.
In his sermon, Rev. J. I. Buruku enjoined Christians to embrace the light so as to escape the works of darkness.
Son-in-law of the deceased, Mr Stephen Amase, in his vote of thanks, expressed appreciation to those who made spiritual and material contributions towards the funeral as well as those who took the time to personally pay last respects.  (The Sun)

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Knocks As Ortom Says President Buhari’s Illness Makes Nigeria Sick |RN

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Buhari, Ortom

Olalekan Adetayo, Adelani Adepegba and Olaleye Aluko

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has drawn the ire of Nigerians for saying that with President Muhammadu Buhari’s sickness, the nation and indeed all Nigerians are sick.

He said he and six of his colleagues that visited the ailing President in London last week advised the Nigerian leader not to be in a hurry to return to the country.

He said the governors told Buhari, who left the country on May 7, 2017, to stay back in the British capital until he was completely healed.

Ortom stated this on Thursday in an interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, amid growing speculations that the President was due back in the country.

The governor was part of the delegation of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum that visited the President last week.

Others on the delegation were Abdullazeez Yari (Zamfara); Dave Umahi (Ebonyi); Umar Ganduje (Kano);  Kashim Shettima (Borno); Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).

Ortom said Buhari was mentally alert throughout the period the governors spent with him, adding that their discussion centred on security and happenings in various states of the country.

He urged Nigerians to continue to pray for the Nigerian leader, saying, “Once the President is sick, the whole country is sick.”

He said, “I was the first person that initiated prayers and I shouted hallelujah when I saw him because God has answered my prayers. I urge both Christians and Muslims to pray for Mr President because that is our duty.

“There is no power without God’s ordination. So those of us who are subjects should continue to pray. We should not be castigating Mr President or be wishing him evil.

“We should be praying for him. If Mr President is sick, it means all of us are sick; the whole country is sick. It is our responsibility to pray that Mr President gets well so that our country too will be well.

“Mr President is doing well. When we saw him, he was not in a wheelchair, he was not bedridden. He greeted us, we cracked jokes and he was mentally alert. We discussed the security situation in the country and he asked us questions about what we are doing.

“Our prayer is that God will consummate his healing. We asked him not to hurry because there is no vacuum. The Acting President is holding forth for him and he is doing very well. By the grace of God, I believe that very soon, he will be with us.”

The governor also expressed surprise that a former Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, has continued to make unfounded allegations against him.

He said Tsav had earlier apologised to him on the matter, but he told the former commissioner that he was not comfortable with a secret apology. He said the Tor Tiv, who was present during the discussion, asked Tsav to tender a public apology within two weeks so that he (Ortom) would withdraw the suit he instituted against Tsav.

He said, “The Tor Tiv gave him two weeks to tender a public apology, but he turned back to launch another attack.

“I want the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or any organisation that he has written petitions against me to investigate whether the allegations are true or not. That is why I decided to go to court since I am a law-abiding governor.”

However, Nigerians, including the pan-Yoruba organisation, Afenifere, berated the governor for his comment on Buhari’s health.

Afenifere and the Coalition of Northern Youths lampooned Ortom over his statement that Buhari’s ill-health had made the nation sick.

Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, described the comment as “the height of sycophancy by Ortom.”

He said if the governor’s comment was true, it meant the President surrounded himself with incompetent officials who could not steer the country along the right path without him.

“The President is the number one citizen, but if he is sick, that did not mean the nation is sick; he is not Nigeria. If he is sick and the country is sick, it means he surrounded himself with incompetents who cannot steer the ship of the nation without him. I think the comment by Ortom is the height of sycophancy,” Odumakin said.

The President of the Coalition of Northern Youths, Yerima Shettima, said Ortom’s statement was sad and unfortunate, noting that the nation was greater than an individual.

He said it was wrong for anyone to say Nigeria was sick because of Buhari’s illness, noting that the nation must forge ahead with or without the President.

Shettima argued that the country must build strong institutions, stressing that an individual alone could not make a country.

He said, “As much as we love him (Buhari), and we are worried about his health, we cannot say because he is sick, the entire country should fall apart. We pray for his quick recovery, but Nigeria must forge ahead.

“Nigeria must forge ahead, but we pray for him to come back in good health and discharge his duties and fulfil his obligation to the electorate. But for anybody to say without Buhari, there is no Nigeria or because he is sick, the country is sick; it is not right.

“I am sure Buhari will not want Nigeria to go down, or for the country to be sick because he is sick. We need to be mindful of our words; the country is greater than any individual.”

Also, a civil-society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, said opinions of governors that visited President Muhammadu Buhari could not determine his stay in London since they were not medical doctors.

SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumumi, said only the medical team with the President would determine his leaving.

He said, “When the President left for his first medical trip, he made it known that he would still go back for a checkup. The health of the president is very important, and he has a duty to take care of himself. The governors do not have to tell the President before he does that. They are not medical doctors.

“It is what the medical team in London tells him that will be done. Nigeria has existed before the President was born, and the country will continue to be whether he is well or not.”

A Second Republic lawmaker and northern elder statesman, Dr Junaid Mohammed, said the statement credited to Ortom was unfortunate, noting that the governor was trying to be “mischievous.”

Junaid said, “If that statement came out from Governor Ortom, then it is rather unfortunate. It further confirms the fears of Nigerians that there is no clear-cut definition on the president’s state of health. The statement is rather mischievous. It does not allay the worries of Nigerians.”  (Punchng.com)

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