Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has again raised the alarm that Fulani herdsmen were planning to kidnap, torture and kill him.
The claimed that the herdsmen’s plan is billed to be hatched along Makurdi-Lafia-Abuyja highway.
Ortom disclosed this, on Friday, at an interactive session between the church, traditional institution and other stakeholders towards peace building, organised by the Makurdi Catholic Diocese held at the Pastoral Center in Makurdi, in the state capital.
The governor, who spoke in Tiv language, said he got an intelligence report that the Fulani herdsmen, who are currently occupying part of Guma Local Government Area of the state, were planning to attack him along Makurdi-Abuja-Lafia Road.
The governor said the armed herdsmen, according to the intelligence report, would ensure that all his security aides were killed after which they would kidnap him, torture him before killing him, adding that already, he had reported the matter to the police and other security agencies.
Accrording to Governor Ortom, “Therefore, anytime l sleep and wake up and my spirit doesn’t allow me to travel by road, I would call flight operators but just a few days ago, the Federal Government has issued a secular that no flight should land in Makurdi airport again.”
The governor, who also alleged that some Benue indigenes were conniving with other forces, in Abuja, to kill him, stressed the need for the Federal Government to urgently address the killings across Nigeria by herdsmen militia to pave way for peaceful election in 2019.
He maintained that most of the polling units in the crisis-affected areas have been destroyed and taken over by the Fulani herdsmen as their grazing fields.
“The killings across Nigeria is a deliberate attempt by some people either Boko Haram, armed bandits or herdsmen working for the same purpose to disenfranchise large proportion of Nigerians from voting for the leaders of their choice.
“Amnesty international had come out to disclose that over 19,000 people have lost their lives in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states to herdsmen attacks and this does not speak well of Nigeria nation especially as we are heading towards 2019.”
While lamenting that Benue indigenes have become destitute and refugees in their fathers’ lands,Governor Ortom further disclosed that pockets of killings were still going on in Makurdi, Guma, Logo and Katsina Ala local government areas of the state.
He explained further that most of the farmlands along the borderlines of Taraba and Nasarawa states have been taken over by herdsmen militia who currently occupy the areas to the detriment of the indigenes.
“Even though, a goat doesn’t bite, but when you continue to provoke the goat, the goat will turn back and bite you”.
He attributed the success of his administration’s amnesty programme and the support given to him by leadership of the Catholic Church in the state.
While calling on international community to beam their searchlights on states affected by herdsmen crisis in the country, the governor enjoined traditional rulers to go back and enlighten their subjects on the need to register with INEC and obtain their PVCs which is the only sure way vote out leaders with questionable characters in next year’s general elections.
But reacting in a telephone chat with our correspondent, National Coordinator of Miyetti Allah Cattlr Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Garus Galolo who noted that Miyette Allah is not a criminal organisation, said whoever gave the governor such false information was only trying to drag the name of MACBAN in the mud.
“It is not true. We don’t have problem with anybody in Nigeria or Benue State. What business does Miyette Allah has with Kidnapping? We are not kidnappers or a criminal organization. We are a peaceful organisation.
“We don’t have anything against anybody in Nigeria. Whoever gave Governor Ortom such false information should stop dragging the name of Miyette Allah in the mud,” Gololo stated.
In a chat with newsmen, Catholic Bishop of Makurdi, Bishop Wilfred Anagbe, disclosed that over 306 traditional rulers, youths, members of both Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) and Catholic Men Organisation and other stakeholders were invited for the meeting to educate them on a violence-free election ahead of 2019.
While noting that Nigeria had been ravaged by violent crisis in the last few years, Anagbe maintained that it was pertinent on the church to meet and discuss with the traditional rulers who are instruments of peace in their domains to enlighten their subjects that no politician should intimidate, coerce or induce them to vote against their conscience.
According to Anagbe, “Tiv land, Benue land and Nigeria as a whole has been traumatised by series of violent crisis in the past few years and now that elections are around the corner, people are taking advantage of this.
“We are trying to let them get into the picture of having to be instruments of peace in their locality because these are the people in the grassroots.
“We have had enough of bloodshed. Let us now do politics that is devoid of violence. If anyone comes to deceive them with whatever inducement, they must be able to resist it,” he said.