Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has hit back at the presidency over the recent statement issued by Garba Shehu, Presidential spokesman.
In the statement issued on Wednesday night, Shehu accused Ortom of allowing the crisis in Benue to escalate.
He said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had taken several steps to tackle killings in Benue and more results would have been achieved if Ortom’s government showed cooperation.
But reacting through his spokesman, Nathaniel Ikyur, Ortom said the attempt to twist the killings in Benue was unfortunate and reprehensible.
He accused the Buhari government of failing to protect Benue citizens, asking if he should be blamed for killings in other states, including Katsina.
“Shehu Garba’s infantile statement on the security situation in Benue State has once again confirmed our position that the killings; mass murder in Benue has the full endorsement of the Buhari government. It also goes to confirm that the Presidential spokesman does not only speak for Buhari but for some terrorist groups too.
“Indeed, the Presidential spokesman’s futile attempts to twist events and history in Benue State is unfortunate and reprehensible. It shows how much he and others in that league have misled the government and Nigerian people in the last inglorious eight years.
“It is common knowledge that as the Commander-in-Chief, Buhari has empowered and emboldened the Fulani pastoralists in their expansionist agenda including killings. It is equally a known fact that President Buhari has failed woefully in securing Nigeria, and Benue state in particular,” he said.
The governor added that it was on record that he repeatedly pleaded with the Buhari government to intervene in the incessant invasion of Benue State by herders militias.
He said that the president sadly, however choose to endorse the invasion and merely asked Benue people to learn to accommodate their neighbours who derive pleasure in killing and dispossesing them of their ancestral lands.
Ortom maintained that, “What the Buhari administration has done to our people through the militants as confirmed by Shehu Garba is to spit on the graves of our compatriots mowed down needlessly by militia. We shall not forget these atrocities.
“Besides unleashing killers on our people, the Buhari government denied Benue State any meaningful project in the last eight years, including the repair of federal government roads in the state which are now death traps. We have tried in vain to find out the offense of Benue people, but we found none, except that our people are responsible, law abiding citizens.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Samuel Ortom was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 to defend the interest of the people of Benue and never to be a lackey in the hands of expansionists using every means to perpetrate evil against the Benue citizens.
“By Garba Shehu’s latest statement, the presidency has clearly demonstrated that Governor Ortom is right when he consistently accused the APC-led federal government of complicity in the killings orchestrated against Benue people by the herdsmen as represented by Miyetti Allah Kautal, Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM and other Fulani socio cultural groups.
“If the Presidency can find it convenient to lay the blame of the massive killings that the Fulani have continued to perpetrate in Benue on Governor Ortom, what can it say of the massacre and kidnappings in Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto and President Buhari’s home state of Katsina among other states where the killing of innocent citizens has continued unchallenged?
“The Presidency has shown in this recent public statement that they have placed cows above human lives and made the animals to urinate on the graves of those they massacred in Benue and elsewhere across the country. If not, they wouldn’t have gone to town to mock the slain in their graves.”
He stressed that the presidency’s statement was a reckless stab by agents of genocide against the Benue people by blaming the victims, positing further that the presidency’s attempt to mock him (Ortom) over the loss of his senatorial seat and the PDP in the Governorship has furthermore strengthened the belief that the massive deployment of security personnel for the elections in the state was planned and hatched in the presidential villa and supervised by agents of the APC.”
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