•Alleges President, others ignored warnings of attack
•Says Lalong lied, was used to blackmail him
The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, yesterday, revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, and Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, deliberately ignored his warnings of planned attack on Logo and Guma communities in Benue by herdsmen.
Making the shocking revelations in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, while meeting with the Senate Adhoc Committee on Security Infrastructure, led by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Gov. Ortom also blamed security agencies for the continued killing of inhabitants of the state by Fulani herdsmen since 2008.
The governor, who lamented the brutal killing of his people, told the visiting senators that when he got information on the planned siege by the Fulanis on targeted communities in the state, he immediately wrote a letter to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who was Acting on behalf of President Buhari who was on medical vacation in London.
He regretted that all his efforts to get the Vice President’s attention through the letter ended in fiasco, noting that he received no response from the number two citizen over his distress petitions on the security threat on his people.
He further noted that, when President Buhari returned to the country from his medical trip, he wrote him severally but no reply was also received from the President on the issue. Ortom disclosed that additional effort was made by the Benue State government to draw the attention of the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno to the threat which was contained in a separate letter addressed to him but still got no communication from him.
The governor said: “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 these 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.
“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 and 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. On allegations by Plateau Governor, Solomon Lalong, that he was warned against introducing the anti-grazing law in Benue, he said: “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. So when you castigate people about because you were induced by someone, and you come out to make those kind of statements, then it’s unfortunate.
“Remember, this is the same man, a double standard person, who told me when I visited Jos three weeks ago, he told me that he is under pressure by his people to do the same law that I did in Benue state. He told me this, he never warned me anywhere. He’s just trying to use that to blackmail me, what crime have I committed.”
Ortom continued: “is this how we want to continue as a country? Where some people are given privilege to be lawless?”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Security Infrastructure, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said that the objective of setting up the panel was to ensure a review of security infrastructure in the country. He said 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.”
Senator Lawan, who conveyed the condolence of the Senate, and commiserated with the government and people of Benue State, however, assured that the Senate will partner with stakeholders and all security agencies to ensure a lasting solution to the problem of insecurity around parts of the country.
Blaming the spate of killings around the country on security agencies, Senator Lawan said, “I think something is amiss. It is either they have deficiencies or they are not cooperating between themselves. “It is our wish that these killings should be the last to happen in our country.
We will cooperate and work with the executive arm of government, but we believe the state and federal governments must continue to work together on this. Those who perpetrated this crimes must be apprehended and ensure that they are prosecuted”, he added. Members of the Senate Adhoc Committee on Security Infrastructure who visited the state to investigate the recent killings include: Senators Abu Ibrahim, Sam Egwu, Abba Kyari, Barnabas Genade, Biodun Olujimi, Joshua Lidani, Emmanuel Paulker and Yahaya Abubakar.