Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has revealed that the federal government, military and the police were adequately informed by the notice of a militant group that attacked the agrarian state but the relevant authorities ignored it.
Besides making the notice public, Ortom stated that he personally wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, and Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris that there were several warnings of the planned attack on Logo and Guma communities in Benue state.
This was revealed that during the meeting of the governor with the Senate Adhoc Committee on Security Infrastructure, led by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
The Senate committee was in the state to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the incessant attacks on Benue state with a view to evolving permanent security solutions to the matter.
Lawan explained that the leadership of the upper chamber felt “this was necessary due to the current rise of insecurity in Nigeria”, adding that “the way our security apparatus is arranged, citizens are not properly and effectively protected.”
The Senate Leader blamed the spate of killings around the country on security agencies, saying “I think something is amiss. It is either they have deficiencies or they are nor cooperating between themselves.”
Condemning the attacks in its entirety, Ortom described the killings as heinous and further blamed security agencies for not responding adequately to the continued maiming of inhabitants of the state by armed Fulani herdsmen since 2011.
He further lamented the brutal killing of the people and insisted that the attacks are not carried out because of the anti-open grazing law instituted by the state government but by a well calculated attempt to totally annihilate and cause setback to the agrarian people.
His words: “We wrote to the Vice President on the planned attack on parts of Benue by fulani herdsmen, because the word was everywhere on the street, but he refused to reply.
“And when there was no response, and when Mr. President came back, I personally went and intimated him, and also wrote. The documents are here, I will hand them over to you. I wrote to him on the planned attack by Fulani herdsmen because this threats were on the streets.
I intimated Mr. President and it was put to writing. On the same October 7, 2017, I wrote to the Inspector General of Police, I told him of a planned attack on out people when there was no response. October 27, 2017, I reminded him that these people are planning to attack us, we are law abiding, we have disarmed our youths, and we are looking unto security agencies. And the way to do it is to arrest those people who were inciting the herdsmen to combat us, and we knew they were going to come,” Ortom stated.
Continuing he said “These people were all over the place; on television, in papers, doing various press conferences, and they eventually took us to court. But We felt that it is a crime for anyone to incite people against us with the purpose of killing or causing harm, destruction. So we expected them (security agencies) to act, but there was no action.”
“Of course I wrote to the Senate President for information, and the Speaker. I also wrote on 7th of October, when I was writing to the Acting President and Inspector General of Police, I also wrote to the National Security Adviser on this planned attack against Benue people. I also wrote to the Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS). And when there was no action, I followed it up with a reminder on 27th of October, 2017. So, that was it, and I also on the 17th of October, I wrote to the President, I copied the National Security Adviser. There was no response. Of course, the National Security Adviser invited us for a meeting two times but it was put off.”
“This is very sad. Those people who are responsible for these killings, I know. I accuse them and I have evidence against them. They are on newspaper publications, they are on video, they are on audio, and they are known.”
“If I had wanted to buy guns, I wouldn’t wait. But if I bought guns and gave to those people, would my people have been killed in the manner they were killed?” I disarmed the people. I’ve not bought a single gun, I’m a Christian. If I bought, I would say yes.
Reacting to allegations by Plateau Governor, Solomon Lalong, that he was warned against introducing the anti-grazing law, Ortom said: “So, the sponsored writeups in the papers and the sponsored speech by my colleague in Plateau state, he said he warned me. How can you warn me? Am I the governor of Plateau state, Or am I his staff? Do I work for him? I’m Governor of Benue state, and my responsibility is to do what my people want. That is what democracy is.
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