Benue’s Position On Grazing Reserves Remains Unchanged, Says Ortom

File photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said his administration has not embraced cattle colonies or grazing reserves as part of efforts to end the herder/farmer crisis in the state.

The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, accused a presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, of giving a false narrative on his stand on the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).

Ortom said Onochie made it seem like the state supports grazing reserves, because Benue is listed as one of the states that applied for funds from the Federal Government for the purposes of establishing ranches.

This is even as he noted the state government only agreed to key into the NLTP because it was approved by the National Economic Council (NEC).

READ ALSO: Appeal Court To Decide Fate Of PDP Convention On Friday

According to Ortom, Benue will only implement aspects of the plan that suits its peculiarities.

“Onochie made spurious allegations, painting the picture that Governor Ortom supports RUGA because the State Government was listed as one of the states that applied for funds from the Federal Government for the purposes of establishing ranches,” the statement partly read.

“It is on record that Governor Ortom has rejected all manner of coinage from the Federal Government in a bid to grab land from Benue State.

“When the Federal Government toyed with so many ideas, ranging from Open Grazing, Grazing Reserves, Grazing Routes, Cattle Colony, RUGA and lastly Farm Centres in the 109 Senatorial Districts across the country in a very suspicious manner, Governor Ortom rose up and opposed it. He rejected any of such policies bring imposed  on Benue. He has not shifted from that position.

“The Benue State Government only accepted to key into the National Livestock Transformation Program (NLTP) because the National Economic Council (NEC), which has the 36 state governors as members, approved the National Livestock Transformation Plan which after series of engagement incorporated suggestions by stakeholders from the State.

The NLTP was introduced by the federal government to address the farmer-herder crisis in the country.

As of June, the ministry of agriculture said 22 states and the federal capital territory (FCT) have registered for the project.

Over 100 Security Operatives Killed While Enforcing Benue Anti-Grazing Law – Ortom

One hundred security operatives have so far lost their lives in the course of enforcing the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranching Establishment Law of 2017.

Governor Samuel Ortom disclosed on Tuesday in Makurdi, the state capital, while receiving the new Commissioner of Police, Mr Tunji Akingbola.

He further stated that the perceived failure of the Federal Government to come down hard on foreign Fulani herdsmen bearing weapons poses security threats to the lives and safety of security forces and Nigerians in general.

File photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

“Why do we need to allow Fulani from all these countries to come and destroy our land? That is the point we are saying. They have given unnecessary stress and risks to our security agencies in Nigeria.

“I say more than 100 security men have been killed in the course of providing security for lives and properties in Benue State in the course of implementing this our law.”

According to the governor, the affected victims include personnel of the army, police, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

READ ALSO: Miyetti Allah Asks FG To ‘Stop Governors From Enacting Anti-Open Grazing Laws’

He commended security agencies for putting in their best in safeguarding lives in the state, especially as it regards tackling the killings from herdsmen.

Citing the law, Ortom explained that the Constitution empowers states to enact laws as long as it does not conflict with those existing laws in the country.

The Benue governor also took a swipe at the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) for challenging state governments over the anti-open grazing laws in their respective domains.

“Tell me why Miyetti Allah, a terrorist organisation who has taken responsibility for killings will come to challenge governors that laws shouldn’t have been made.

“We have not committed any evil, we have done the right thing by ensuring we are law-abiding. That was why we legislated and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that we are free to make laws as a state as long as it does not conflict with the provision of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Ortom stated further.

‘Satanic, Obnoxious Law’

While the 17 governors from the southern region under the umbrella of the Southern Governors Forum announced a ban on open grazing of cattle across states in the region, MACBAN kicked against the move.

The association accused the governors of depriving pastoralists means of livelihood, calling on the Federal Government to stop them from enacting the anti-open grazing law.

MACBAN Secretary-General, Saleh Alhassan who spoke on Monday during a press conference in Abuja, said the law would undermine the relative peace and stability currently enjoyed in the local communities, threaten the social order and exacerbate cattle rustling.

“The National Assembly and Mr President should intervene and stop the current attempts by some state governments to criminalise our means of livelihood of cattle-rearing through enacting of satanic and obnoxious laws they call Anti-Grazing Law,” he noted.

“The Federal Government should create a ministry for livestock and fisheries as obtainable in many African countries. Nigerians should adopt strategies in responding to changes of climate change as it affects livestock production not negative laws.”

Alhassan noted that anti-open grazing laws would destroy livestock production and send millions who depend on the livestock value chain into poverty.

Buhari Is Not A Cultist, Garba Shehu Replies Ortom Over Remarks On Killings

Minimum Wage: Buhari Meets With Implementation Committee, To Receive Report
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, has slammed Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State over his comments on the killings in the country.

Defending his principal, he stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has no connection with the killing of innocent Nigerians by criminals.

“President Buhari does not kill people; he is not a cultist,” said the President’s media aide who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Buhari Is The Worst President When It Comes To Security – Ortom

A day before Shehu’s interview, Governor Ortom had criticised the present administration and described President Buhari as the worst when it comes to handling security matters.

Governor Ortom, who also featured as a guest on Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, condemned the way in which some critical issues were being managed.

On the attacks by suspected herdsmen, the governor alleged that the President had an agenda to ‘fulanise’ the country.

He added that late former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Umar Yar’Adua, as Nigerian leaders of Fulani extraction, were better than President Buhari in terms of security.

But Shehu, in his response, dismissed all the claims by the governor. Rather, he described the President as one who is compassionate, just, and fair to all.

He believes the tolerance the President has shown towards the purported excesses of the governor is evidence of his description of the Nigerian leader.

The President’s spokesman also criticised Governor Ortom for his comments on the purported agenda to ‘fulanise’ the country.

“All of the falsehoods he (Ortom) spreads, perhaps speak to his own character rather than that of the President,” he said. “The President’s wish is that open grazing should end, nobody wants it.

“The President has shown extraordinary patience stomaching a lot of the garbage that Governor Ortom has been pouring about him. I am not sure that in the history of this country, there had been any president who would have taken all of the insults that Governor Ortom has been heaping on this President, and on the President’s directive, we have ignored him.”

Before the interview in the evening, Shehu had issued a statement in reaction to the claims by the governor.

Read the statement below:

Statement Concerning Samuel Ortom, The Governor Of Benue State

Governor Samuel Ortom has few political principles. We can see this from the fact that he has changed political parties five times during his undistinguished career.

Every time he feels the wind may be blowing in a certain direction, he follows it.

Unfortunately, for the good citizens of Benue State, the most dangerous direction he blows in today is that of sectarianism and ethnicity.

In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, Ortom takes the cheapest and lowest route possible by playing on ethnic themes – and in doing so knowingly causes deaths of innocent Nigerians by inciting farmers against herders, and Christians against Muslims.

Specifically, Ortom stirs up hatred by targeting one single ethnic group in Nigeria – using language reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide.

As was the case in Rwanda where the then Hutu leaders of the country incited their countrymen against each other, claiming there was a “secret Tutsi agenda” over the Hutu, Ortom claims there is a “secret Fulanisation agenda” over other ethnic groups in his state and in Nigeria. This is a copy of the language of Hutu Power – which falsely, and intentionally, accused the Rwandan Tutsi of plans to dominate the country.

This wicked talk is aimed at giving cover to his so-called “policy” on the Ranches Establishment Law – which in reality is purely an act of denial of the law – intended to withhold rights and freedoms from one ethnic group alone, whilst inciting race hatred against them amongst all others.

These are not the actions of a man who should be trusted with running public services or holding public office.

For the governor of a major state in Nigeria to be politically driven by ethnic hatred is a stain on our country.

The good, and fair-minded people of Benue State deserve more than this, and we look forward to the next elections when they have an opportunity to restore its greatness.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

August 25, 2021

Buhari Is The Worst President When It Comes To Security – Ortom

 

Governor Samuel Ortom has slammed the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as the worst when it comes to handling security matters.

Governor Ortom who was a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday said he was disappointed at the way the president has handled certain critical matters in the country, especially insecurity.

The governor was reacting to the president’s open grazing policy.

“Mr President is pushing me to think that what they say about him, that he has a hidden agenda in this country is true,” Ortom said, adding: “because it is very clear that he wants to fulanise but he is not the first Fulani president.

“Shagari was a Fulani President, Yar’ Adua was a Fulani President and they were the best in the history. But President Buhari is the worst President when it comes to issues of security and keeping his promises.

“Go back to 2015, what did he say, human rights issues, he talked about press freedom, about the economy, corruption, security, tell me one that Mr President has achieved.

“He has achieved some level of development in other sectors but these prominent things that are concerns to Nigerians and we are all worried about.. tell me when Mr President has come out to address them. Is it corruption, we are worse in the history of this country”.

Read Also: Presidency Turning Nigeria To A ‘Cow Republic’ – Ortom

While the presidency believes that open grazing could be a solution to the lingering farmers/herders clashes, Ortom believes that it will only worsen insecurity.

He said it was disappointing that despite the fact that most states have agreed that ranching is a better way to go in an attempt to resolve the crisis, the President has maintained his stance on open grazing.

“If Mr President respects the law, the Land Use Act gives governors the power to preside over land administration on behalf of the people that they govern.

“So it is amazing and I am surprise to hear this coming from Mr President as if he doesn’t have an Attorney General, or Lawyers around him to advise him. I think Mr President was misquoted or he did it out of error. He should come out to apologise to Nigerians.”

His comments come days after President Muhammadu Buhari approved recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch”, 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment.”

Among other things, the Committee recommended the production of maps and geo-mapping/tagging of sites, analysis of findings and report preparations as well as design appropriate communication on Grazing Reserves and operations.

Presidency Turning Nigeria To A ‘Cow Republic’ – Ortom

A file photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom (File Photo)

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to review grazing reserves in 25 states in the country.

According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase on Friday, Governor Ortom said with the move, it appeared that the President was turning Nigeria into a ‘cow republic’.

“We were shocked and disappointed to read a statement from the Presidency indicating that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch,” 368 grazing sites across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment,” the statement read in part.

“In a country where insecurity has reached an all-time high with hundreds being killed by armed herdsmen, bandits and other terrorists, the Presidency is only bordered about animals and their safety and is deploying all machinery and arsenals of government to impose grazing reserves and cattle routes on Nigerians. This is unacceptable!,” he added.

Speaking further, the governor accused the Buhari administration of “turning a blind eye to the unimaginable levels of encroachment on lands belonging to Nigerians by cattle”.

“Mr President has never come out even once to condemn activities of herdsmen and the attacks they visit on innocent people. The only time the President is heard speaking about atrocities of the herders is when he defends them.

“It is now clear that the Presidency wants to plunge the country into avoidable crisis. Otherwise, what is the justification for President Buhari’s insistence that grazing reserves be established across the country when Nigerians have openly kicked against the policy and have embraced ranching in place of open grazing?”.

Read Also: Buhari Approves Review Of Grazing Reserves In 25 States

The decision comes at a time when the nation is battling insecurity, especially the lingering crisis between farmers and herders.

Efforts by the Federal Government to resolve the age-long clashes including the introduction of the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) have met stiff opposition.

The Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) had met on February 9 and agreed that the current system of herding mainly by open grazing is no longer sustainable, in view of the growing urbanisation and population of the country.

The Forum, consequently, resolved to sensitise herders on the need to adopt ranching as an alternative method of rearing animals.

This is also the stance of the Benue Governor who has, long before now, lamented that millions of Nigerians have been displaced following attacks by armed herders and are currently suffering in IDP camps.

“Benue State for instance has over 1.5 million displaced people with thousands living in camps and many more forced to flee their ancestral lands to stay under dehumanizing conditions in open fields.

“The Buhari administration does not seem to be worried about the food crisis already ravaging the country. Farmers have been chased into IDP camps by herders and children are dying of starvation in addition to being denied education, yet what is more important to their President is the wellbeing of cows,” Governor Ortom was quoted to have said in part.

Ortom: Even Though Benue Has Over 1.5 Million IDPs, Attacks Have Continued

 

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has lamented the spate of attacks in the state, saying that as a result of the insecurity, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) keep increasing.

Addressing journalists in the Ortese area of the state on Tuesday, Ortom said between 2018 and now, IDPs have increased from 500 to over 1.5 million.

“I never envisaged that we will have 500 IDPs and then it will rise to over 1.5 million and we are still counting. As at last week, there were still attacks,” he said.

“These Fulani bandits have continued to kill our people and even those that attempted to go to their villages were killed.”

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

Noting that the state government is constrained financially, the governor lamented that it has become extremely difficult to meet the needs of displaced people in the state.

READ ALSO: Robbers Attack Bullion Van In Ondo, Shoot Policeman

He, however, said both the local and state governments provide food items on a weekly basis to the people staying in Ortese camp

According to him, the state government will provide additional relief materials.

As part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of the IDPs, the governor also disclosed that his wife is launching a programme to provide health services to the displaced persons.

Insecurity: Ortom Backs Kukah, Asks FG To Stop Intimidating Nigerians

Combination of Bishop Matthew Kukah and Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

 

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has backed the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah over his recent comments on insecurity.

Kukah had during an address to the US Congress Commission on July 15, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of showing preference to people of his religion which according to him, has worsened the rivalry between Christians and Muslims.

Kukah said the Buhari administration has failed to address insecurity but the presidency had replied the Catholic bishop, accusing him of trying to sow discord and strife among Nigerians.

The Presidency has since tackled Kukah, describing his comments as “unfortunate and disappointing”, complaining that the cleric “castigated” Nigeria before the US lawmakers.

However, supporting the cleric via a statement issued on Saturday by his spokesman, Terver Akase, Governor Ortom asked the Federal Government to stop intimidating patriotic Nigerians who are raising genuine concerns over the worsening security and economic situation in the country.

READ ALSO: Police Foil Kidnap Attempt By Bandits, Rescue Eight Travellers In Katsina

Ortom said he “stands with Bishop Kukah on the issues he raised,” adding that he would have said similar things if he were to address the same audience.

“Governor Ortom states that the country is practicing democracy which has no room for repression and dictatorship,” the statement partly read.

“He notes that the country’s Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens, unlike a military regime which suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.”

The Benue governor described the cleric as “one Nigerian who is selfless and speaks his mind frankly on national issues calling on the government to ensure justice, the rule of law and equity for all.”

He also took a swipe at the Presidency’s response to the criticism, wondering why the current administration has chosen to politicize the views of Bishop Kukah when all the issues he highlighted in his address are facts about the country.

“He says Kukah was right when he stated that nepotism has been elevated above federal character by the present administration. He further agrees with the Bishop that Christians across the country are targets of elimination and thousands have already fallen to the sword of jihadist supremacists,” the statement added.

See the full statement issued by Governor Samuel Ortom below:

I STAND WITH BISHOP KUKAH – GOV ORTOM

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom describes as unfortunate, the response of the Presidency to the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah’s address to the United States Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding the wave of insecurity in the country.

The Governor says he stands with Bishop Kukah on the issues he raised and stresses that he would have said similar things if he were to address the same audience.

He advises the Federal Government to stop intimidating patriotic Nigerians who are raising genuine concerns over the worsening security and economic situation in the country.

Governor Ortom states that the country is practicing democracy which has no room for repression and dictatorship. He notes that the country’s Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens, unlike a military regime which suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.

He says Bishop Kukah is one Nigerian who is selfless and  speaks his mind frankly on national issues calling on the government to ensure justice, the rule of law and equity for all.

The Governor wonders why the Presidency has chosen to politicize the views of Bishop Kukah when all the issues he highlighted in his address are facts about the country.

He says Kukah was right when he stated that nepotism has been elevated above federal character by the present administration. He further agrees with the Bishop that Christians across the country are targets of elimination and thousands have already fallen to the sword of jihadist supremacists.

Governor Ortom states that Kukah is not to blame for the ranking of Nigeria as the 8th least peaceful country in Africa and the rating of killer herdsmen as the 4th deadliest terror group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index.

He expects the Presidency to rather be worried that Nigeria is ranked as the most terrorised nation in Africa with an average of over 2,000 deaths per year on account of terrorism.

He emphasizes that the combative approach the Presidency has adopted in engaging citizens on issues will not solve the problems confronting the country.

Governor Ortom says Bishop Kukah is not the first Nigerian to address a foreign audience on the security situation in the country. He recalls that in February, 2015 President Buhari was at the time the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, when he delivered a speech at Chatham House in London, where he stated that “Boko Haram has sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, killing more than 13,000 of our nationals.” The President went on to announce to the world on that occasion that apart from the civil war era, Nigeria had never been more insecure in the country’s history.

The Governor states that if a man who was seeking to govern the country could reel out such scary statistics, why will his aides now launch media attacks on a clergyman who is only advocating peace and is drawing the attention of the global community to the plight of helpless Nigerians.

Governor Ortom once again tasks the Federal Government to arrest and prosecute members of armed Fulani groups for killing innocent Nigerians, the same way it effected the arrest of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Igboho to prove critics wrong that its fight against terrorism and other crimes is unbiased.

He says the President may not be collecting proceeds from corrupt deals under his administration and may even not be aware that such shady deals exist, but some of his aides are deeply involved in corrupt practices and are denying Nigerians of the services and projects meant to alleviate poverty and hunger in the land.

Governor Ortom maintains that the President may also not be aware that Nigerians are facing harsh economic conditions and many are being killed by bandits, herdsmen and other terrorists because some of the persons saddled with the responsibility of telling him the truth have refused to do so.

He urges the Presidency to listen to the voices of reason and resist the temptation to whip into silence those who genuinely love the country and are offering solutions to its challenges.

Terver Akase

Chief Press Secretary

July 24, 2021.

FG’s Insistence On Open Grazing Points To A Hidden Agenda – Benue Govt

 

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on Tuesday said the Federal Government’s insistence on open grazing suggests it has a hidden agenda.

The Presidency had on Monday faulted the recent resolutions of the Southern Governors, including the ban on open grazing in the entire southern part of the country.

A statement signed by Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said the Governors’ resolutions failed to provide any solution to the lingering crisis between farmers and herders in the country.

Instead, the statement added, President Buhari has “commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the States, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.”

But the Benue State Governor, in a statement signed by spokesman Terver Akase, said the insistence on open grazing reserves was curious.

“We find the move not only shocking and curious but also as a misplaced priority,” the Ortom statement said.

“At a time the country is worried about the worsening security situation and many Nigerians are calling for national dialogue to address the fundamental issues that have led to the present state of affairs, the Federal Government considers the reopening of cattle grazing routes as the only solution available to it.”

READ ALSO: Open Grazing Ban: Southern Governors Did Not Provide Any Solution – Presidency

The Governor faulted the Federal Government’s plan to commence rehabilitation work on grazing reserves in the country next month.

Ortom recalled that the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) had met on February 9 and agreed that the current system of herding mainly by open grazing is no longer sustainable, in view of the growing urbanisation and population of the country.

While noting that the Forum consequently resolved to sensitize herders on the need to adopt ranching as the new method of animal husbandry, Ortom said the 17 Governors of Southern Nigeria also met on May 11 in Asaba and banned open grazing in the entire region.

The Southern Governors, the Benue leader added, adopted ranching as the alternative method of rearing animals.

He added, “As it stands, the Presidency is the lone hand pushing for the continuation of open grazing and the return of cattle routes of 1950s and 60s. The Presidency has, by its endorsement of open grazing, emboldened armed herders who lay claim to all lands in Nigeria as belonging to Fulani, hence their invasion of farming communities and killing of original owners of such lands.

“The fact must be established that grazing reserves or cattle routes are no longer tenable in the 21st century when Nigeria’s population far exceeds that of the fifties at a time these routes were contemplated.

“At present, the routes have been taken over by airports, roads, schools, hospitals, as well as markets, houses and other human activities. The country’s land mass has also reduced to less than 923 square kilometers with the excision of Bakassi to Cameroon. Besides, the international best practice of animal husbandry is ranching; and that’s the stand of Benue State.”

We in Benue have embraced ranching as the viable alternative to open grazing and there is no going back on our resolve. Our ranching law which prohibits open grazing is Benue people’s reaction to the incessant killings, and it is also an instrument of development. The law was enacted by representatives of the people in the Benue State House of Assembly, in the exercise of its powers as provided for by Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Part 2 of the Second Schedule reinforces the power of the State House of the Assembly providing that “a House of Assembly may make laws for the State with respect to industrial, commercial or agricultural development.” The Law followed due process with public hearings and requisite opportunity for all stakeholders making input.

Ranching as a policy has the potential to launch Nigeria into 21st-century agricultural good practices. Today, open grazing is extinct in most countries of the world. In Europe, America, Asia and in many countries in Africa, pastoralism has long given way to ranching. How can Nigeria then still be battling with a problem of pastoralism that in other countries has been solved over a century ago? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, India has 303 million cattle, Brazil, 226 million, China, 100 million, USA, 93 million, Argentina, 53 million and Australia 27 million. All these countries ranch their animals. Nigeria has less than 20 million cattle which can easily be ranched. Unfortunately, the cows are allowed to either roam the streets freely or encroach on people’s farms and other investments.

While we may not stop the Federal Government’s plan to rehabilitate grazing reserves or create cattle routes in other states, we wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements. Benue is therefore not part of the grazing reserves rehabilitation programme of the Federal Government.

We expect the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to weigh the negative consequences its recommendation will have on the unity and security of the nation and advise Mr President that Nigerians are not on the same page with him regarding the matter of open grazing. It is not too late to salvage the situation.

We are concerned about the plight of millions of farmers who have been displaced as a result of herders’ attacks and are now in IDP camps; a development that is already adversely affecting food production. Benue State has over one million displaced people who are mostly farmers, and the task of returning them to their ancestral homes is what should bother the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies of the Federal Government.

 

Terver Akase

Chief Press Secretary

May 25, 2021.

 

 

People Who Oppose Southern Governors On Open Grazing Have Hidden Agenda  – Ortom

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has said anyone who opposes the southern governors on open grazing ban is an evil person who has a hidden agenda.

The governor stated this on Thursday in Makurdi during the ‘Media Week and Communications Day 2021’ organised by the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi.

“Anybody that is castigating them for coming together to say that it is no longer feasible to do open grazing in Nigeria is an evil man with a hidden agenda,” he said.

“If you have land in your state and you think you can accommodate open grazing, you are free to do that. I am surprised that some people have taken to criticise and castigate the southern governors. Southern governors have not done anything wrong; they have done the right thing.”

READ ALSO: Afenifere ‘In Total Support Of’ Governors Ban On Open Grazing

While noting that his southern counterparts had towed the right path of addressing insecurity in Nigeria, Ortom stressed that open grazing was no longer feasible in the country due to development and population growth.

He insisted that the nation had great potentials and should, ordinarily, have no business with poverty if the security of life and property were guaranteed in communities to allow for farming and other ventures to flourish.

Ortom appreciated the church and Muslims in the state, as well as residents for remaining supportive of his administration.

He added, “They have not done anything strange. It is what we started in 2016 and it is what also the Northern Governors Forum met some time ago and adopted that moving forward in this country, we must adopt ranching.

“I appreciate my colleagues and the people of the Southern part of Nigeria, 17 governors coming together to adopt ranching as the global best practice and the best practice in Southern Nigeria.”

El-Rufai Is One Of Those Who Have Misled President Buhari – Ortom

File photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on Saturday took a swipe at his Kaduna counterpart, describing him as “one of the real enemies” of Nigeria.

Mr. Ortom was responding to a statement credited to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, where the latter reportedly accused the Benue Governor of attacking the federal government to cover for his failure to secure Benue state.

“Nasir el-Rufai is a sycophant, ethnic champion and religious bigot who hates anyone who does not share the same faith with him,” a statement signed by Ortom’s spokesman, Terver Akase, said.

READ ALSO: Benue Seeks To Recruit Community Volunteer Guards Over Insecurity

“He is among the very few persons who have misled President Muhammadu Buhari.

“El-Rufai is one of the real enemies of this country who do not hide their divisive tendencies by elevating nepotism and ethnicity above the good values that have held Nigeria together over the decades.”

Communities in Benue have recently come under attack from suspected herdsmen prompting Ortom to accuse President Buhari of working with Fulani to take over Nigeria.

The Presidency, in response to Ortom’s comment, has expressed disappointment in the Governor.

 

Read Ortom’s full statement on El-Rufai:

EL-RUFAI IS ONE OF THOSE WHO HAVE MISLED PRESIDENT BUHARI

We read the statement credited to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai in which he accused Governor Samuel Ortom of using the insecurity in his state to attack the Federal Government in order to cover up what he termed as the Benue State Governor’s failure.

We want to believe that El-Rufai was wrongly quoted. A man who has failed in several aspects as Governor of Kaduna has no moral justification to accuse another Governor.

A Governor who has divided the good people of Kaduna against one another by not hiding his hatred of indigenes of the state on account of religion and ethnicity is not qualified to judge another Governor on any issue whatsoever. A Governor who chose a Muslim deputy in a state where Christians have a huge population is certainly not one to preach unity and peaceful co-existence.

El-Rufai’s attack on Governor Ortom is merely to make him look good before the Presidency. He has apparently fallen out of favour at the Villa and wants to use Governor Ortom as a launch pad back to reckoning. How has he handled his own problems in Kaduna? This is a man who has insulted almost every prominent Nigerian including the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and former President Olusegun Obasanjo; a man who is his former boss and one who brought him to limelight.

Nigerians have not forgotten the unprintable things El-Rufai said during Goodluck Jonathan’s time as President. He insulted the then President and publicly supported terrorists attacking parts of the country. His statements on the abduction of Chibok girls and several other acts of terrorism are still fresh in our minds. El-Rufai is on record to have said repeatedly that Fulani people must retaliate any wrong done to them no matter how long it takes.

Is Governor Ortom responsible for El-Rufai’s inability to ensure peace in Kaduna State where bandits have taken over some communities while kidnappings and killings occur on daily basis?

El-Rufai admitted to paying Fulani herdsmen whom he invited from other West African countries in the name of stopping attacks in Southern Kaduna. Since he made the confessional statement, attacks on the people of Southern Kaduna have escalated. This is why he wants men of good conscience like Governor Ortom to be silent to pave way for the conquest and expansion agenda to succeed.

Kidnapping has become a common crime in Kaduna State under Nasir el-Rufai.
Aside the much celebrated cases, it has been estimated that at every given time, not less that 300 persons are abducted in Kaduna by kidnappers who are always identified as El-Rufai’s kinsmen. He pays them billions to embolden them. He has turned the state into one of the most unsafe places to live in Nigeria today.

Talking about taking someone seriously, if other Nigerians take El-Rufai seriously, we in Benue do not do same. A man who has no regard for humanity does not deserve our attention.

Nasir el-Rufai is a sycophant, ethnic champion and religious bigot who hates anyone who does not share the same faith with him. He is among the very few persons who have misled President Muhammadu Buhari. El-Rufai is one of the real enemies of this country who do not hide their divisive tendencies by elevating nepotism and ethnicity above the good values that have held Nigeria together over the decades.

Nasir el-Rufai doesn’t possess the credentials to counsel anyone on payment of salaries and the welfare of workers. This is a Governor who recently sacked 4,000 workers for no just cause. He ought to be ashamed of himself. What happened to the lofty promises he made to Kaduna people in 2015?

The Kaduna Governor should know that only two days ago, the people of Benue State met at a stakeholders meeting in Makurdi and unanimously passed a vote of confidence on Governor Ortom in recognition of his performance. That meeting was attended across party lines with leaders of All Progressives Congress, APC also present.

El-Rufai and his conspirators must note that Benue State will not repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, no matter the amount of blackmail, hatred and threats they wage against Governor Ortom.

We advise the Kaduna State Governor to focus on addressing the numerous problems he has created in his state and leave Governor Ortom to lead Benue in peace.

Terver Akase
Chief Press Secretary
May 08, 2021.

Insecurity: Benue Seeks To Recruit Community Volunteer Guards

File photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

As part of measures to tackle the security challenges in Benue, stakeholders in the state have sought the recruitment of Community Volunteer Guards.

The demand followed a meeting of the stakeholders held on Thursday in Makurdi, the state capital with Governor Samuel Ortom in attendance.

According to a communique issued at the end of the meeting, stakeholders commended the efforts of security agencies in tackling the security threats in the state.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Abduct Abia State University Students

“The meeting considers the fact that in the face of banditry, kidnapping, herdsmen attacks and other crimes the Security Agencies have done well,” the communique partly read.

“The meeting, however, resolved that the renewed attacks on the people by armed herdsmen have overstretched Security Agencies in the State.

“Therefore, the Benue State Government should fully enforce the “Law to Provide for the Establishment of Community Volunteer Guards (Vigilante) and for the Purposes Connected Therewith” which was enacted in the year 2000.”

Benue stakeholders also passed a vote of confidence on Governor Samuel Ortom for his administration’s efforts in nipping in the bud the menace of insecurity.

Read the communique issued after the Benue Stakeholders’ Meeting today in Makurdi:

STAKEHOLDERS MEETING OF BENUE STATE HELD ON 6TH MAY, 2021 AT THE NEW BANQUET HALL, BENUE PEOPLE’S HOUSE, MAKURDI

RESOLUTIONS

  1. The Benue State Stakeholders Meeting appreciates Security Agencies for their efforts in ensuring relative peace in parts of the State. The meeting considers the fact that in the face of banditry, kidnapping, herdsmen attacks and other crimes the Security Agencies have done well.
  2. The meeting, however, resolved that the renewed attacks on the people by armed herdsmen have overstretched Security Agencies in the State.
  3. Therefore, the Benue State Government should fully enforce the “Law to Provide for the Establishment of Community Volunteer Guards (Vigilante) and for the Purposes Connected Therewith” which was enacted in the year 2000.
  4. The State Government has been mandated to support the Vigilante with logistics as provided in the Law.
  5. Recruitment of the Vigilante should be carried out in the 23 Local Government Areas of Benue State.
  6. The meeting reinforced the commitment of Benue people to the enforcement of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.
  7. The meeting emphasized the need for all stakeholders to join hands in tackling insecurity in Benue State devoid of political, religious and ethnic sentiments.
  8. The meeting unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the Governor for his efforts in providing security in the State. The motion for the vote of confidence was moved by leaders of the three main Socio-Cultural Organizations in Benue State; Mzough-U-Tiv, Ochetoha, K’Idoma and Omini ‘Igede.

 

Samuel Ortom

Executive Governor Chairman

 

Prof. Anthony Ijohor SAN, FCArb

Secretary to the State Government

Secretary.

No Evidence Linking Agila People To Ebonyi Killing – Benue Govt

File photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

The Benue State Government on Friday said there is no evidence linking the Agila people of Ado Local Government Area to the recent attack in Ebonyi State.

Gunmen had in the early hours of April 12 attacked Ebele village, Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State reportedly killing an unspecified number of people.

The attackers were said to have invaded the village through Agila community, a border town between Ebonyi and Benue States which have been enmeshed in a boundary dispute.

But in a statement issued on Friday, Benue State Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Boundary Committee, Benson Abounu, exonerated the Agila people, expressing disappointment over a statement credited to Ebonyi State Government, David Umahi who purportedly indicted residents of the north-central state.

READ ALSO: Tension As Gunmen Attack Another Community In Ebonyi

“While we sympathise with the victims and families of those affected in the gruesome attack, it is important to state that there is no evidence linking the Agila people of Benue State with the offence,” he said.

“We are surprised at the attempt by the Ebonyi State Governor to change the narrative and find scapegoats for an action everyone, including the survivors themselves said was carried out by Fulani herdsmen.

“We are amazed and highly disappointed with the statement credited to the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Engr David Umahi indicting the Agila people of Ado Local Government Area of Benue State for the Monday, April 12th, 2021 attack on Umwuagodo-Akpu community of Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State in which an unspecified number of people were allegedly killed.”

When the attack first occurred, even without any form of verification, and against the avalanche of evidence that it was carried out by Fulani herdsmen, Governor Umahi had hurriedly accused Agila people of responsibility.

Today, two weeks after, in order to validate his earlier assertion, Governor Umahi is laying blame on the Agila people even as he has accepted that the attack was actually carried out by Fulani herdsmen. He now says that, the herdsmen were hired by Benue people. Even a gullible public will find this difficult to swallow.

It will be recalled that victims of the aitack had categorically identified herdsmen as the attackers. In spite  of this, the Governor still went ahead to accuse the Agila people who convincingly absolved themselves of the atrocity.

Given the foregoing, we are now compelled to ask of Governor Umahi the following questions:

1.How did he come about the statement that the Agila people hired the Fulani herdsmen killers?

  1. Where is the evidence supporting the claim that Agila hired the herdsmen attackers?
  2. Did any Fulani herdsman tell Governor Umahi that the Agila people hired his kinsmen?
  3. Has Governor Umahi bothered to interact with the Agila side to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the claim?

Let me state here that when news of the attack broke and the Governor cast aspersion on the Benue side, I, as Benue Deputy Governor and Boundary Committee Chairman, engaged my Ebonyi counterpart and we both investigated the unfortunate incident. Our findings did not support the claim that Agila people either directly attacked or masterminded the attack on Umuogodo-Akpu of Ebonyi State.

I believe that it is now pertinent to request the Governor of Ebonyi State to make available all evidences, if any, of Agila’s involvement in the sald attack. Otherwise we in Benue will have no choice but to conclude that the Govemor’s unfounded claim amounts to inciting his people against Agila people and by extension Benue State. Moreso as the Governor in his press briefing after the State Security meeting, presented a cheque of N40m to Umuogodo-Akpu people to settle the victims AND to enable them form a “Vigilante”!!

This, in our view, is dangerous coming from the Governor of a State. We will therefore demand that Governor Umahi takes a second look at the whole saga in order to properly address the unfortunate event.

Signed:

Engr Benson Abounu

Deputy Governor/Chairman

Benue Boundary Committee.