Killings: Presidency’s response to criticism shows Fulani bias, Ortom insists

Killings: Presidency’s response to criticism shows Fulani bias, Ortom insists

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Friday, reiterated his stance that the Fulani militias unleashing terror on innocent Nigerians had the support of the Presidency.

Ortom was reacting to the statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, who said it was shocking that the Presidency expected the governor to remain silent when killer herders continued to attack his people.

Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said such expectations by Shehu showed the tacit support of the Presidency for the killer herders.

According to him, the clarion call on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was for him 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.

Ortom said he found nothing wrong in his call on the President to address the nation, convene a national security summit and declare a state of emergency on security, following the killings taking place in Benue and other states of the federation.

The governor said, “Many other Nigerians of good conscience have at different times made similar calls. What the governor, therefore, deserves is commendation and not condemnation.

“If Garba 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 the North-East, North-West, South-East, South-West and other parts of the North Central. Are those killings occurring as a result of the comments of governors of the affected states?

“It is shocking that Shehu would make a statement regarding an attack evidently 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.”

The statement argued that Shehu was aware Ortom had on several occasions raised the alarm over the activities of the rampaging herdsmen, whose sole aim “is to take over the ancestral lands of Benue people and other Nigerians.”

It added that the governor had written letters to the Federal Government and made other spirited efforts for the government to 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 reopened to grant easy passage to the pastoralists and their animals. The posture of the Federal Government has made many Nigerians to 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 AK-47, 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 Garba Shehu ought to know is that Governor 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,” the statement read in parts,” the statement added.

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