From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has described as shocking and misleading reports quoting Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, that he was warned, last year, of impending killings by alleged herdsmen in Logo and Guma Local Government Areas.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the vice president said it would be terrible falsehood to suggest that he was ever informed by the governor, or anyone else, of the imminent killing of citizens in those or any other local governments of Benue state.
Osinbajo said Ortom, contrary to his claims, never mentioned any threat to any specific one of the 23 local governments of the state to him, hence, the best the law enforcement agencies could do then was to await information or intelligence of an imminent attack and none came.
“Governor Ortom wrote to the vice president, then Acting President, on June 7, 2017, protesting a newspaper publication where the leadership of Miyetti Allah was reported to have stated that it was opposed to the Anti-Open Grazing Prohibition law of the state and that they would mobilise to resist the law.
“The Miyetti Allah had written to the vice president on June 5, 2017, on the same law, protesting several sections of the law. The governor went on to say that the leadership of Miyetti Allah should be arrested because they used words such as “wicked, obnoxious and repressive,” to describe the law and because these were ‘utterances that are capable of undermining the peace…’
“The vice president subsequently met with the governor, discussed the matter and the security situation in the state and then, ordered law enforcement agencies to be on the alert, to prevent any attacks or violence. This was in June 2017.
“In the said letter written by the governor, there was no mention of any threat to any specific one of the 23 local governments of Benue state, so ,the best the law enforcement agencies could do, even then, was to await information or intelligence of an imminent attack.
“Since then, the VP has held several meetings with the Benue state governor, including a visit to the state on September 6, 2017, at the behest of Mr. President, during the tragic floods in the state.
“At all such meetings, the vice president discussed the security situation of the state with the governor.
“Following that, the then Acting President convened a major national security retreat, which was attended by all state governors, Service Chiefs and heads of security agencies. The retreat featured very detailed discussions on the herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes.
“To the best of our knowledge, neither governor Ortom nor the Federal Government was aware of the imminence of the cowardly attack on Logo and Guma on January 1 and, therefore, any suggestion that the president or the vice president ignored the state governor’s warning is absolutely false and certainly misleading.”