The Benue State Government has reacted to the recent statement by the presidency which criticised Governor Samuel Ortom for demanding a state of emergency on security.
The Governor had on Tuesday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately convene a National Security Summit to discuss and address the worsening security situation in the country.
The Governor made the call while addressing protesting youths at Abagena village where alleged Fulani militiamen killed seven persons and injured many others during a midnight attack on Monday.
Reacting, the presidency, in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on Thursday, faulted Ortom’s call for the president to be proactive in curbing the deteriorating security situation in the state.
According to the statement, Buhari was disappointed and sad over the comments of Governor Samuel Ortom, while reacting to the numerous killings in the state.
However, the Benue State Government via a statement issued on Friday by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said Ortom deserves to be commended for his actions.
The statement reads: “We read the statement in which he said Buhari had expressed “his disappointment and sadness to hear Ortom, the Governor of Benue State made a litany of accusations against his person and his government following the recent unfortunate incidents in the state.
”Shehu was referring to Ortom’s clarion call on the President to act decisively and in an unbiased manner to end the spate of killings by Fulani herdsmen in Benue and other parts of the country.
“We are convinced that President was not aware that his aide Shehu made such a statement on his behalf. The media aide didn’t speak for the President in the said statement. Buhari wouldn’t have approved such a reckless and insensitive press release.
“What is wrong with Ortom’s call on the President to address the nation, convene a national security summit and declare a state of emergency on security, following the spate of killings taking place in Benue and the remaining states of the federation?
“Ortom is not the only one who is worried by the worsening security situation in the country and has called on the President to rise to his responsibilities by declaring a state of emergency on security and convening a summit to address the numerous security challenges bedevilling the nation.
Many other Nigerians of good conscience have at different times made similar calls. What the Governor therefore deserves is commendation and not condemnation.
“If Shehu claims that the President is disappointed in the Benue State Governor for speaking against the sustained attacks on his people, we wonder how he feels about the killings in North East, North West, South East, South West and other parts of the North Central. Are those killings occurring of the comments of Governors of the affected states?
“It is shocking that Shehu would make a statement regarding an attack carried out by Fulani herdsmen and there won’t be a single sentence of reproach directed at the violent Fulani herders. Such a deliberate omission smacks of complicity and tacit support for the killer herders.
“Shehu is aware that Ortom has on several occasions raised alarm against activities of the rampaging herdsmen whose sole aim is to take over the ancestral lands of Benue people and other Nigerians.
The Governor has written letters to the Federal Government and made other spirited efforts to have the government at the centre take preventive measures against further attacks on Benue communities.
“The Federal Government has repeatedly ignored such patriotic calls, insisting rather that cattle routes of the 1950s be opened to grant easy passage to the pastoralists and their animals.
“The posture of the Federal Government has made many Nigerians conclude that it is complicit and its inaction has emboldened the armed herdsmen to cause greater havoc across the country.
“The President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The job of a Governor is to support security agencies to perform their duties, and this, Governor Ortom has done efficiently to the admiration of many Nigerians.
“When President Buhari gave a shoot on sight order to security agencies against persons bearing AK47, Governor Ortom was one of the first to support the presidential directive. The Minister of Defence came out a few weeks later to counter the President’s order and we expected a reaction from the Presidency but till this minute, no such reaction has been heard.
“What Shehu ought to know is that Ortom has no personal grudge against the President. The Governor is only being patriotic by calling for justice, equity, fairness and above all the rule of law. He expects the President to be the leader of every Nigerian and treat all as his people”.