Leading Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Sunday, condemned the humiliation of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Saturday by overzealous airmen of the Nigerian Air Force in Makurdi, the state capital.
According to the governor, he was denied entry into the NAF Base, where he wanted to receive Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who was transiting the state despite that a letter from the Presidency inviting him for the purpose.
“This morning (Saturday) I went to the Air Force base to receive the Vice-President, who was to transit to Wukari, but unfortunately, I was barred in my own state; it is a breach of protocol.
“This is politics taken too far and somebody must account for this. If the Vice-President is passing and if I don’t go (to receive him), it will be a breach of protocol on my side,’’ a furious Ortom told journalists on Saturday.
In a statement, National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said barring an elected state governor and Chief Security Officer of a state from the NAF Base is an affront to the principle of democracy.
Onwubiko said, “Denying Ortom, who is a member of the National Economic Council led by the Vice President himself from such an invited event is hypocritical of the administration of President and his Vice-President whom claim to be for everyone and for nobody.
“It is a known fact that Ortom, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, has been very vocal in his criticism against the ruling All Progressives Congress. The embarrassment of Ortom on Saturday can be termed deliberate and an act of persecution for speaking out against the Buhari regime.
“The Saturday event again queries the genuineness of Nigeria’s federalism and again calls for the need for the states and the regions to have control over security agents in their domains.
“The silence of the Nigerian Air Force and the Vice-President a day after the matter is suspiciously complicitous. Both NAF and Osinbajo must publicly apologise to Ortom and sanction the overzealous officers for the flagrant disrespect of the governor. Belonging to an opposition party and being a critic should not warrant victimisation.”
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).