From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Plateau State Governor, Solomon Lalong, has led a delegation of Plateau elders to Benue, to commiserate with the government and people of the state, over the herdsmen invasion on January 1, in which over 70 people were killed and, to formally tender apologies to Governor Samuel Ortom, for saying he warned him against implementing the Anti-Open Grazing Act.
Lalong, who was represented by his Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Fetus Fwamtel, noted that Benue and Plateau states have lost over 7,000 people each to so-called ‘unknown gunmen,’ and described the recent killing in Benue as “one murder too many and an onslaught against us as a people.” Lalong noted that the separation of Benue and Plateau is not to divide the people but, to unite them.
“We cannot afford to break our ties; we cannot afford to fail our past leaders who toiled to ensure our unity.”
In his response, Ortom noted that Lalong and himself had come a long way and explained that even before he (Lalong) apologised, he had forgiven him but expressed joy that his colleague openly apologised.
“Lalong and I have been close, thinking together on how we can overcome our common challenges. We need to get closer now, more than ever before. He apologised and even before he did, I made a pronouncement that I had forgiven him. I am happy he apologized so we can quickly put this behind us.”
Ortom also seized the opportunity to apologise to his Nasarawa State counterpart, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura for saying that the state was harboring herdsmen who attacked Benue. Ortom stressed that he should have confided in him first before going public with the information he received.
“There is no need for any blame game among us.”
He also maintained that the grazing law is not targeted at any particular ethnic group as being erroneously insinuated in some quarters.