Strongly convinced that the governor of Benue State Mr. Samuel Ortom should rather be praised and possibly rewarded with one of the nation’s highest honours for speaking and standing for social justice and for a decisive, law based and sincere counter- terror war, the presidential spokesman Malam Garba Shehu has being called out for displaying gross disrespect by picking up petty quarrels with the Benue State’s helmsmen. This was the position of the foremost Civil Rights Advocacy Group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
HURIWA says the threat by President Muhammadu Buhari to deal with perpetrators of violence in Plateau State is a redherring, and at best unreliable because for the past 6 years that armed marauders made up largely of armed Fulani militia have attacked different parts of Nigeria and primarily Southern Kaduna and Benue States, the President made similar verbal threats that turned out as empty propaganda because till now not one of those armed terrorists masquerading as Fulani herdsmen have been prosecuted successfully.
Also, the prominent Civil Rights Organization: – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) which made the aforementioned observations, has asked the president to direct the Inspector General of Police to order the immediate production of the leader of the Fulani group that made claims to have attempted to kill the Benue State Governor Mr. Samuel Ortom months back.
HURIWA carpeted the Nigerian Police and the Federal government of president Buhari for refusing to arrest the Fulani leader even after he had made media claim of responsibility just as the group said this creates the impression that someone up there in the current administration actually wants the Benue State governor dead only because he speaks and stands for justice.
HURIWA recalled that a Fulani group identified as Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, had claimed responsibility for the attack on Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
FUNAM said it planned to kill Ortom on Saturday, but its plan suffered a setback due to a slight communication error.
A statement by one Umar Amir Shehu said Ortom stood against open grazing and Fulani interest in the country.
The statement entitled: “Why we attacked Ortom” reads: “Our attention has been drawn to media reports today speculating about who attacked the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom.
“Yes. Yes, we did. The Fulani Nationality Movement, (FUNAM) carried out the attack. We have genuine reasons. We acted on behalf of Millions of Fulani people in 15 countries.
“It’s a case of vengeance against an infidel who has used his time and money, deployed in destroying the Fulani values and inheritance.
“Our courageous fighters carried out this historic attack to send a great message to Ortum and his collaborators: Where ever you are, once you are against Fulani long term interest, we shall get you down. This is a clear warning. We hope those who take us for granted will get the indisputable message.
“Our intention is unequivocal: TO KILL HIM. That mission will one day be fulfilled and very soon too.”
“Eleven of FUNAM operatives were involved in the attack. Ortom escaped today because of a slight technical communication error. Next time, he will not be lucky. We can assure him and his supporters.”
HURIWA recalled that recently armed herdsmen had attacked Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on his farm at Tyo-mu village, along Makurdi – Gboko road.
HURIWA recalled that reacting, the governor had alleged that linked the assassination attempt to Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN.
The governor claimed that MACBAN had concluded plans to assassinate him over his position on open grazing.
Ortom alleged that the Myetti Allah took the decision to eliminate him during a meeting they organised recently in Yola.
He noted that his life is in the hands of the Supreme God and no Fulani man can kill him, said he received intelligence that the Association planned to kill his security aides and subsequently capture him alive.
HURIWA also condemned the persistent attacks of the governor of Benue State in the media by the spokesman of the President Garba Shehu who has displayed unambiguous allegiance and loyalty not to the Federal Republic of Nigeria but to his Fulani Ethnic nationality.
The Rights group recalled that the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said that no amount of blackmail and media attack from the presidency can stop him from speaking against the worsening security situation in his state.
During an interview with Channels Television on last Tuesday, Ortom had said that President Mohammadu Buhari’s agenda on open grazing is aimed at ‘Fulanising’ Nigeria.
Ortom’s comment, however, triggered a response from the presidency, which alleged Ortom of instigating ethnic hatred.
Garba Shehu, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, equally alleged Ortom of being behind the spike in security breaches.
While reacting to this last Thursday, Terver Akase, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ortom, said the presidency abandoned the message and went for the messenger.
”We have read the presidency statement in response to Governor Ortom’s comments during an interview on Channels Television in which he spoke on the worsening security situation across the country.
”It is rather unfair for the presidency to describe the career of a man, who has held several key positions at the state and national level as ‘undistinguished.’
”Ortom had spoken the minds of the people on critical areas that the Federal Government needs to work on. Instead of taking the Governor on those points, Shehu went in a desperate attempt to malign the Governor.
”No amount of pressure can force the Governor to revoke the law on open grazing of cattle in Benue State.
”Our advice for the presidency is to focus on ending the gruesome murder of innocent citizens, fix the economy and fight the corruption that has eaten deep into our economy.
”Governor Ortom stands by his words. He will not be deterred by any blackmail or media attack from speaking against unpleasant happenings in his state,” Akase disclosed.
HURIWA also said the minister of special duties and former Benue State governor Mr. George Akume was wrong to have demanded apology from the Benue State governor to President Muhammadu Buhari just as the Rights group carpeted the minister for his show of hypocrisy because it is unimaginable that he expects his state’s governor to apologise for demanding an end to the well coordinated armed attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen in Benue State. HURIWA then asked George Akume how he wants someone to apologise for speaking out for social justice and the just enforcement of the counter terror laws by the Federal government of Nigeria or has Nigeria become the Federal Republic of FULANIS?