Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has criticized the presidency for blaming him for the invasions and killings in the state by gunmen. Governor Ortom accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of failing in its responsibility to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians. Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, Ortom described the presidency’s claims as shameful, adding that it confirms the full endorsement of the killers by the Buhari-led administration.
Reacting to a media story attributed to presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu, where he said the killings in Benue are Governor Ortom’s fault and not the president’s fault, the governor said the deployment of security personnel for the elections in the state was planned and hatched in the Presidential Villa and supervised by agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He stated that if the Presidency blames him for the killings, it is surprising that the massacre and kidnappings in other states have continued unchallenged.
Governor Ortom signed a law banning open grazing of livestock in the state, which has made him a target of the Buhari presidency since 2017. The governor has been subjected to media attacks, probes, freezing of state accounts, and other punitive measures to frustrate and cripple his administration. While other states were given infrastructural loans, Benue was denied access to the funds.
Ortom has repeatedly pleaded with the Buhari government to intervene in the incessant invasion of Benue by militias, but the president endorsed the invasion and merely asked the people to learn to accommodate their neighbors who derive pleasure in killing and dispossessing them of their ancestral lands. Governor Ortom said that the Buhari administration has empowered and emboldened the Fulani pastoralists in their expansionist agenda, including killings.
Governor Ortom said that what the Buhari administration has done to his people through the militant herders is to spit on the graves of “our compatriots mowed down needlessly by the militias. We shall not forget these atrocities.”