By Williams Anuku, Abuja
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on Tuesday honoured an invitation from President Muhammadu Buhari, a forum that provided him an opportunity to explain in details what actually transpired when he was attacked by suspected herdsmen at his personal farm on Saturday.
Governor Ortom, is believed to have told the President that with the current state of insecurity, Nigeria may actually be sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
He said he was however placated when the President issued a statement condemning the attack on him and directing the Inspector General of Police Muhammed Adamu to carry out a full scale investigation into the attacks.
According to the Governor, the initial directive by the President that any AK 47 wielding person in the forest be shot on sight was also a welcomed development from the Presidency.
Recall that Ortom who had taken time off on Saturday to inspect his farm in the outskirts of Markudi, in Benue State was attacked by militia herdsmen.
Ortom who had to run for about one kilometer to safety attributed his escape to the grace of God and his personal security aides who repelled the attackers.
Though no casualty was recorded, the attack had in the past few days elicited diverse reactions from cross sections of Nigerians, with many saying the security situation is getting out of hands.
The governor also stated that he was elated that what he saw in the past regarding the menace of open grazing, which necessitated a law against it was coming to light, for the whole nation to come to terms with it.
Ortom, shortly after the meeting with the President spoke to State House Correspondents saying, “You know, the task of governance today in our country and in Benue state is very challenging. Security issues, economic issues where you have to be on the ground to handle things yourself, and that is what I’ve been doing.
” That is why you don’t see me frequenting Abuja again. And, most times, as a result of COVID-19, sometimes even Mr president we’re able to communicate on phone, except when it becomes very necessary, like now, I have to come. I have to see Mr President, first of all, to commend him for the statement he issued when I was attacked.
“It was quite consoling, and his directive that a thorough investigation be done and the criminal elements fished out. I think it was important. And I received that as quite consoling. I’m aware that the security challenges in our country today is not about President, is not about we governors, is about every citizen of this country. So, we must work together to surmount these.
“We cannot continue in this manner. Democracy is anchored on rule of law. That is why for some of us, you will see that I have not done anything illegal, including the prohibition of Open grazing law which my people told me to present the House of Assembly, and eventually we signed it into law.
“That law is not targeted against any ethnic group, is not targeted against any individual or group of people. But is meant to regulate the activities of herdsmen and farmers. And I think we have very good stories to talk about. Today, in Benue state, those who trespass against this law, who are herders are arrested, their cattle impounded, they are prosecuted and they pay fines for those cattle.
“Those who rustle cattle from herdsmen, we go into them, so nobody is spared. And it’s not about ethnicity. So, even the people in Benue state, the Idoma, Tiv and other ethnic groups are also been prosecuted when they contravene the provisions of the law. So, I am here today to also brief Mr President about my internal security problems. You all know that when Gana was killed, we envisaged that some other groups will spring up. That is what we are witnessing today.
“As I talked to you today, those who took over from Gana are busy terrorising the state. This is the internal problems we have apart from the communal clashes and minor crisis amongst the people themselves. Because of land matters most especially all the communal issues that are happening today is as a result of land.
“But our security council in Benue state is very strong, we have extended it to local government and wards, and I think that by the grace of God we will be able to overcome that aspect too. I have recommendations to me, and also to let Nigerians know, especially those who are responsible for making inflammatory statements.
“We’re sitting on a keg of gunpowder, everybody’s not in doubt in Nigeria today about the security situation. And without security, there can be no meaningful progress going on. And so, it is important to put heads together, do the things that are lawful, let us protect the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria so that everybody will be secure.
“Let there be equity, fairness and justice. That is what I stand for. That is what Im fighting. I believe that as my president, I do not want to talk about the recommendations. I’ve been able to recommend in some measures, and most of them, they agreed that nobody should be a sacred cow. If people are found wanted, they should be prosecuted, the police should prosecute them. And I think this is what is good.
“The other time, he also gave an order for all those carried at 47, irrespective of where you come from, you should be shot on sight. And I think that is welcoming and is the best thing to do in a situation like this. And in order for the immigration and other security agencies to protect our border. I think all these are commendable.
“So, it’s not just enough to say that one criticises the policies of the federal government or the President, but when he does a thing that is good it is our responsibility to team up with him to ensure that that is done. Because it is when we are peaceful, when we have security, that we can talk about even tomorrow.
“I want to also appeal to Nigerians. 2023 Yes, to a politician is not far, but is still a long way. If we secure our country, and everything is working fine. Then we can talk about 2023. But the way things are going if we don’t secure the country, there is no way we can be talking about 2023.
“That is why I’ve always dismissed people who come to me to say that you’ll contest this you’ll contest that. For me, I want us as leaders of this country, we have taken oath on Office, let us abide by those things we have said, and work together as a team, leave politics aside. Leave ethnicity aside, but secure the country, Nigeria.
“We have no other country other than Nigeria, we leave. Today we got not go to Cameroun or Senegal or any other place and …….. So, my appeal to everyone is to ensure that we work together, security matters are not just for the security agencies alone. We as people who are being led, we who are leaders we have a responsibility. It is only when we team up together, that we’ll be able to surmount this challenge. But I think that there shouldn’t be room for people who are creating problems for us.
“We have a constitution, we have laws of the land. If people are found wanting they should be cautioned, they should be arrested, they should be prosecuted and let the right thing be done”.