Samuel Ortom Calls On The United Nations For Help

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom called on the United Nations, UN, at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office in Abuja during a presentation on the continuous killing of Benue people by rampaging herdsmen, to intervene in the human crisis resulting from the genocide perpetrated by armed herdsmen in the state.

Governor Ortom informed the gathering that as an administration, which believes in the rule of law and peaceful coexistence, series of meetings for dialogue were organised by the Benue State Government to find a solution to the crisis without much success leading to the promulgation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law.

He argued that due process was followed in the making of the law, saying in addition to conducting public hearings, which involved all the stakeholders in the three Senatorial districts of the state and Makurdi, a grace period of six months was allowed for people involved in livestock business to make adjustments.

After the Governor’s opening address, Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Dennis Ityavyar made a presentation which had details on the attacks, including the number of people killed and property destroyed between 2011 and this year. He urged the United Nations to assist Benue State to overcome the challenge.

The United Nations and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon expressed deep worry that the conflict between herdsmen and farmers if not checked would mar the peaceful conduct of the 2019 general election.

Mr. Kallon stated that already 19 out of the 36 states of the federation were engulfed in the crisis which he said was being driven by climate change, growing scarcity of resources and insufficient political reforms.

He decried the level of attacks and killing of innocent people by armed men, maintaining that he was personally involved in the roadmap to peace and had been calling on Government all levels to find a lasting solution to the conflicts in order to stop the killings.

Mr. Kallon stated that he was represented in Benue at the mass burial of the seventy people killed by suspected Fulani militia in January where he called on the Federal Government to take firm action in investigating the attacks, bringing the perpetrators to justice and also paying compensation to victims in line with International Human Rights obligations.


Reps Order Police IG To Apologize To Gov Ortom

The House of Representatives has ordered the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to apologise to Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who was described as a “drowning man” by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood.

The House on Wednesday debated a motion on the killings by herdsmen in Benue State, specifically asking the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to apologise to the state governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom.

The IGP is being asked to apologise for a statement made by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, calling Ortom a “drowning man.”

Moshood made the statement on Channels Television programme, Morning Rise, on Tuesday, February 6.

BAF Describes APC Govs Visit Belated, Condemns FG

Benue Advancement Forum (BAF), has described the recent visit by some All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to Benue State, coming several weeks after the killing of 73 innocent people by suspected Fulani herdsmen, as belated and a mockery.

The organisation, led by its chairman, Professor David Iornem, made the stand known yesterday (Saturday), at a world press conference in Makurdi, the state capital. In an address presented by its deputy chairman, Professor Jerry Agada, BAF wondered why it took the northern governors a long time to pay a condolence visit to their colleague. It said it was equally curious that the visit came only after a delegation of Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, South South and Middle Belt socio-cultural groups had visited the state.

BAF condemned the attacks on children, women and other vulnerable people in Guma and Logo Council Area. It faulted the silence of President Buhari on the killings and urged the Federal Government to arrest those behind the genocide and declare herdsmen a terrorist organisation.

“BAF will also want to state that we do not trust the intentions of the Federal Government in sending troops to Benue, even as the government of President Buhari has not come out clearly to support the anti-open grazing law in Benue. It seems that Buhari’s government does not believe that the Benue State House of Assembly has any right to make laws that are acceptable and beneficial to protecting the interest of Benue citizens,” the group stated.

It urged Governor Ortom to remain courageous and firm, as he has been on the anti-grazing law, which it described as the best solution to lasting peace in the country.

According to the group, “We want to advice further that Benue State already has a law regulating livestock farming and we do not need any other law that seeks to introduce the idea of cattle colonies. Cattle colonies will be counter-productive and extremely dangerous in these times when the menace of insurgency is at its peak.

“Herdsmen/cattle colonies will only provide a safe haven for insurgents and open doors to the likes of Al-Shabab and other terrorist groups who have been seeking hostage. We have died and are not afraid of dying again. We would rather die than have our land and heritage taken away from us,” the group warned.

We Are Still Living In Fear, Ortom Tells APC Govs

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, on Friday, said that people of the state live in fear and still under siege of Fulani herdsmen.

Ortom stated this while receiving northern and All Progressive Congress governors led by the chairman, governors forum, Shetima Kashim, at the new banquet hall, Makurdi.

In attendance were five governors; Shetima Kashim, (Borno), Simon Lalong, (Plateau), Mallam El Rufai, (Kaduna), Yahaya Bello, (Kogi) and Mohamad Abubakar, (Jigawa) as well as deputy governor of Osun state, Chief Mrs Grace Titilayo Tomori.

Ortom said that the fear of the people stemmed from continuous threat by the herdsmen who despite the killings still issued threat on daily basis to take over Benue land.

According to him, “we thank God that peace is gradually returning to the state but there are still pockets of challenges here, we know the challenges will soon be over because our people are always alert to give useful information to security operatives around”.

“Let me tell you that our people are still living in fear and under siege; living in fear because of the series of threat by Kautal Hore which started the threat since seven months ago, they are not mere threat.

“We have evidence against them, what we are saying is that federal government should arrest the leadership of Kautal Hore”.

Governor Ortom who appreciated the visit said that the state is committed to one Nigeria and assured president Buhari of the state’ s committed to his administration.

The governor, however, expressed confidence that Nigeria will soon take its rightful position as the giant of Africa if leaders are sincere and stand by the truth.

“This country is blessed with great potentials to be great in the world and that is if we leaders should stop pretending but stand by the truth.”

I Forgive Lalong For Comments On Grazing Law – Ortom

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has reacted to the comments made by his Plateau State counterpart, Mr Simon Lalong, about the prohibition of open grazing in Benue.

Since the law was implemented, there have been series of attacks by suspected herdsmen on some Benue communities, with dozens of people killed in the recent attacks on Logo and Guma local government areas of the state.

Addressing a delegation of the Arewa Consultative Forum on Friday at his office in Makurdi, the Benue governor said he was pained by the comments and consequently called Lalong who denied making such statement.

“Somebody drew my attention yesterday (Thursday) that he (Lalong) made such comments that he warned me not to implement the law and I was wondering if my colleague from Plateau State could say that; so I called him and he told me he did not say it,” said Ortom.

“But later, when I watched it on Channels Television, he castigated me beyond what I thought a colleague of mine should (but) I’ve forgiven him.”

Shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, Governor Lalong told State House correspondents in Abuja that he had warned his Benue counterpart to adopt ranching and not prohibiting open grazing as the solution to the clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

He had said, “I told the Governor of Benue when he was doing the law, I told him ‘why don’t you do (ranches)? Be careful, take the other steps before you start implementation; states are different.”

Benue Killings: Miyetti Allah Leadership ‘Cannot Go Scot Free’ – Ortom

in his reaction, Ortom maintained that although he had a discussion with Lalong, he never received any warning from him.

He, however, explained that even if he was warned as claimed, the decision to implement the law was taken by the people of Benue who he said he had consulted.

“At no time did my colleague warned me about this law but even if he had warned me, it was beyond me,” Governor Ortom said. “It originated from the people themselves and even if he had warned me, I would have told him it is beyond me.”

“It’s about Benue State and I’m not talking about Plateau State; that is what the Benue people want. Is there one person in Benue that is against this law? he asked the regional sociocultural group who responded “no”.

The Benue governor further recalled that instead, it was his colleague who informed him during a private visit that he was also under pressure to implement the anti-grazing law in his state.

He said he later called Lalong after he confirmed that the governor actually told reporters he had warned him but his effort to reach the Plateau governor was futile.

He said: “When I saw this on television yesterday, I tried to get back to him (but) he did not pick my call.

“I wanted to remind him, when I finally confirmed that he said it, that the last time I went to Jos for a thanksgiving service in one of the churches, on my way back I felt like paying homage to him and I did and he told me that he’s under pressure to also enact that law that he’s going to do it.”

“He told me himself; so coming back to say that, I don’t understand but all the same, let us leave all these things behind us – if we leaders begin to disagree amongst ourselves, then there is no sign of a solution to these problems,” Ortom added.

The Benue Killings: Matters Arising By Dan Agbese

There has been a steady outpouring of grief, anger and condemnation in Benue State over the latest killings by Fulani herdsmen in Guma and Logo local government areas. For tens of families in those areas, the new year did not bring joy and happiness. It brought death, grief and loss. Official figures of the dead? 71 men, women and children who had no quarrel with these herdsmen and in no way provoked them into turning them into mere disembodied statistics.
I offer the state governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, my condolence. Their death diminishes all of us who are indigenes of the state. It is right for all those who come from that sad state to express our feelings over the attempts by the herdsmen to turn Benue, and indeed, three other states in the Middle Belt zone into killing fields. It is unacceptable. We are right to say so loud and clear.

Something appears to be stirring post these senseless killings. The minders of our state appear to have finally woken up to the real security challenges of enemies without borders menacing our state. The reaction this time is different from the indifference shown by the authorities when the herdsmen, not once but several times and with impunity, levelled several villages in Agatu Local Government Area, also in the state, in 2015 and 2016. We still do not know how many were killed in those attacks. Let us not pretend that the minders of our state failed to rise up to that challenge then. Guma and Logo are sad reminders of a simple fact: evil earns its capacity to spread when it is treated like a minor boil on the nose of the unfortunate.

Still, I welcome the outpouring of anger and condemnation by our big men. I can see that the reaction to such incidents has moved from the politically correct template of mere condemnation couched in jaded words by the important people in both the state and the nation at large into what I see as perhaps a move to address this growing problem and free the state and the nation from being hostages to these mindless killings and killers.

On October 30 last year, the former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, released bone chilling statistics on the killings and the destruction by the Fulani herdsmen in four states – Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Benue – in 2016. In only one year, according to the general, Fulani herdsmen killed 2,500 people and displaced 62,000 people in the four states. The states lost $13.7 billion and 47 per reduction in their internally generated revenue.

Since leaving office in a blaze of glory in 1999, Abubakar has become a tireless ambassador for peace in and outside the country. In releasing the statistics, he warned that the killings were spreading beyond the four states. What he did, and rightly so, was to confront the Nigerian state with the fact that its lethargy would make matters worse, much worse, and urged it to wake up. It seems to me that his timely warning appears to have been ignored. The consequence is that the killings are going on and have spread to Adamawa, Taraba and even Imo states.

Abubakar described these killings as clashes. In my reaction to his timely warning in my column for this newspaper, titled: Fulani herdsmen? The grim statistics, I pointed out that the killings did not and do not result from clashes between the herdsmen and the villagers because “there is no evidence that those attacked ever faced the attackers or that they had a chance to fight back. These attacks and killings are unprovoked and the attackers choose where and when to attack.” I also pointed out that “The real shock is not that these killings, maiming and displacements go on with impunity but that the federal government seems to be doing Rip Van Winkle in the face this critical national challenge.”

In these sad moments, it is naïve not to expect our people who believe they must be heard to bottle their emotions. A crisis is easy to be exploited and manipulated for political gains. It is in the nature of human societies. We must be careful not to reap such bountiful political harvests at the expense of the people. But make no mistake: when the emotions are spent and the dead are buried, the big people would once more padlock their lips and remain blind to, and silent on, issues that agitate us. Guma and Logo would recede into our collective memories overflowing with the sad victims of similar incidents in and outside the state.

Those who are calling on the president to resign are merely riding the tide of public emotion. The president has nothing to gain from the killings in Benue and other states. It is not right or fair to accuse him of inaction because he, like the herdsmen, is a Fulani. The tribalisation of a crisis such as this merely beclouds of our thinking and our sense of fairness and proportion. Let us face the fact and the fact is that the primary responsibility for the security of the state and its people lies squarely on the shoulders of Ortom, the state governor. Security is the number constitutional duty placed on the shoulders of the president and the state governors.

Consider the ham-handed official police reaction to the killings in Guma and Logo in early January. They might have been forgotten if the killers had not returned a few days later to Logo. The inspector general of police attributed the first wave of killings to communal clashes in those areas. I think he misadvised himself and his statement in the heat of the crisis was equally callous and ill-timed. I can find no where in the laws of our land where the police are authorised to treat communal crises with insouciance or levity. Perhaps, this mind set encouraged the killers to return.

Why did the state and the police fail to rise up to the immediate challenges of securing the affected local government areas? Interestingly, the Benue State police command informed the public they had arrested seven of the herdsmen involved in the new year attacks. Were they Tiv men in herdsmen’s clothing? It is such a great pity that the police chose to be mealy-mouthed about this grave problem.

The current killings throw up once more one of the fundamental problems with the operation of our military federalism. As horrendous as the Benue killings are, they are in no way worse than those in Borno and Yobe since 2009. Or worse than those in Adamawa and Plateau states. Whether they are perpetrated by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen or hired killers, these killings point to an uncomfortable but inescapable fact: our security system has failed us. This is not really about Benue. It is about the inability of the Nigerian state and the constituent units of the federation to make us safe in our own country. No one should take this lightly because the challenges posed by these pockets of crises are nasty and real; intractable even.

We need to take two urgent steps in this regard. The first is to take another look at the nature and the practice of our security system. Security is not entirely the responsibility of the Federal Government. It is a shared responsibility between it and the state governments. The states cannot effectively discharge this responsibility with our current single federal police force. Experience has amply demonstrated that it is not working or working satisfactorily. It argues for a state police.

Despite the generous security votes for which they are accountable to no one, the state governors do not feel sufficiently responsible for security in their various domains where most of them choose to enjoy privileges without responsibilities; what the late Churchill called the province of harlots. They throw it back on the Federal Government. In their failure they try to score cheap political points by making the president the scapegoat every time there is a security breach resulting in death and destruction.

I am afraid this would not wash. So, the second point is to hold the state governors primarily and unequivocally responsible for security in their domains. Their failure to do what they ought to do with their security votes and the security outfits available to them to make their states and their people fully secure and protected should attract constitutional sanctions. The Nigerian state ought not be complicit, by default, in the cheapening of the lives of its citizens. No band of killers can ever boast of the security arsenal in the custody of the Nigerian state.
Why do we feel so helpless?

FULL INTERVIEW: What Benue Gov, Ortom Told Journalists After Meeting President Buhari

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday to meet President Muhammadu Buhari as tension continued to rise in his state over the New Year Day attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

The attack left scores of villagers dead in two local government areas of the state.
Mr. Ortom spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting. Excerpts from the

On his mission to the State House
I had earlier briefed Mr. President when this incident took place on the first of January. After staying back on the ground to do the needful to ensure that we restore normalcy, I said it was important for me to come personally and brief him and that has been done.

Already, because of the communications we have been having when these incidents started, actions have been taken as directed by him (President Buhari). The movement of the DIG, the movement of the IG now to relocate to Benue State to ensure that this challenge is surmounted, was at the instance of Mr. President.

Of course, additional personnel of DSS and Police have been deployed and even the Army. We have additional personnel on ground now. We have adequately and fully given them the logistics support to ensure that our people are protected.

I had to brief him, he is also doing further investigation to know the next line of action. I believe that my request that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who has earlier threatened… and I accused them directly, since June last year I have been writing to the leadership of security agencies, that these people are a threat to our collective interest and they must be dealt with. They must be arrested and prosecuted because we cannot allow impunity to continue to thrive. And, of course, threat and no action has resulted in this killing and I think that Mr. President will also do the needful to ensure something is done.

On allegations that he hired mercenaries from Republic of Ghana to fight herdsmen
I am not aware of this and I don’t even know about that one, I am hearing it for the first time. If someone has done that, it must be this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, that have done it.

On the allegations that he was blocked from seeing the President
I have never accused anyone of blocking me from seeing Mr. President. I’m seeing Mr. President. I told him when this incident occurred, I spoke to Mr. President on phone and followed it up. I know what it entails being a president. Even as governor most times I am not with my phone, people cannot access me the way it used to be, talk less of a president. I didn’t say that and I have not said it. The truth is that I have access to Mr. President anytime I want, I speak to him on phone and I see him personally. I requested to speak to him on phone that day because I couldn’t come to Abuja and he gave me the opportunity and today I’m here and I have seen him.

On suggestion that full blown military operations be set up in Benue like other places
Anything that can stop the killings of my people, I will go for it, I support it. Any policy or any directive, anything that will help stop the killing of these innocent people who are not armed, because this cannot continue. We know that the continuity of this will create greater challenges. I don’t want it to continue. We are struggling with economic issues, we are struggling with political issues and we are struggling with several other issues in this country, security issues and all that, Benue State should not be part of this; there is no need for it.

On allegation that the anti-open grazing law in the state is at the roots of the crisis
The law on prohibition of Open Grazing and Establishment of Ranching was made out of the necessity to ensure that we have peace for herdsmen and farmers and that is what we have done. The law seeks to protect all and as I talk to you, except this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who are instigating people to fight and to kill us, there are Fulani men in Benue State as I talk to you doing their business.

On allegation by the Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN Chairman, Benue State chapter, Garos Gololo, that the killings were in retaliation for the theft of 1,000 cows by some people in the state

You know that man is a liar. Gololo is a liar, he is a wanted man in Benue State, we don’t even know where he is. He stays somewhere and makes allegations. The other time, he said 1,000 cattle drowned and the herdsman decided to commit suicide by jumping into the river. He has not come out to justify what he said.

On FG’s idea of setting up colonies to solve the problem
I am waiting to be briefed about what colonies means, I don’t understand it and until I understand it…But like I keep saying, for us, the way forward is ranching and up til this time, I am talking to you, the way forward is ranching because is global best practice. And it is not just practised in other parts of the world, on African soil in Swaziland, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, almost all African countries that rear cattle, they ranch. So why can’t we do the same thing here? For the colony thing I don’t know what colony is.

On how many ranches his administration has created
It is not for me to create ranches. I know that as a farmer, I have one in my farm. And there are several other people who have. The permits are available for people who want to ranch their cattle to access land and begin to ranch. So it is free for everybody and that is the right way to go.

And since we started the implementation (of the anti-open grazing law), there has been relative peace amongst farmers and herdsmen. They were doing well until this militia coming from this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore came and attacked us. And they are known, we know where they are. As I talk to you, they are in Tongua in Awe local government, that is where these people are camped and coming to attack people.

And it is taking a different dimension. Just yesterday (Monday) in Logo local government, mobile policemen that were deployed to Logo to keep vigil to protect the people and the land, these militia came, exchanged fire with them, caught two of them and slaughtered them like goats. Mobile policemen! They shot another one, macheted him and left him in the pool of his blood, but luckily, he did not die. We have taken him to the hospital, we are treating him. The other one that was declared missing was found today (Tuesday).

So when it gets to the level of militia killing security men who are armed and are trained to protect lives and property, is it not taking a dangerous dimension? Who is now safe?

Buhari Promises Ortom Improved Security In Benue

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said he has assured the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, of his commitment to the security of lives and property in the state and other parts of the country.

Buhari said he gave the assurance during a meeting he had with the governor at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He disclosed this in a message he posted on his verified Twitter handle, @MBuhari, shortly after he met the governor to review the security situation in the state especially as it concerns recent killings.

He said he was committed to ensuring that all those behind the recent attacks in the state were brought to justice.

He also promised that his government would do everything possible to forestall a recurrence.

The President wrote, “I just met with the governor of Benue State. I assured Governor Ortom of our total commitment to the security of lives and property in Benue and elsewhere.

“We have deployed additional security resources to fish out the attackers, bring them to justice, and prevent further attacks.”

Benue Killings: Ortom Meets Buhari, Wants Military To End Conflict

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, said he would support any move, including military option, that can put an end to the killings being witnessed in the state.

He however said he would not support the Federal Government’s plan to establish cattle colonies until he understood the concept.

Ortom spoke with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said although he had briefed the President on the telephone immediately the incident took place, he felt there was the need for him to meet Buhari personally after he had succeeded in restoring normalcy to a level.

When asked for his position on the suggestion that full blown military operation be applied in his state, the governor said, “Anything that can stop the killings of my people, I will go for it. I support it.

“Any policy or any directive, anything that will help stop the killing of these innocent people who are not armed, I will support it because this cannot continue.

“We know that the continuity of this will create greater challenges. I don’t want it to continue. We are struggling with economic issues, we are struggling with political issues and we are struggling with several other issues in this country, security issues and all that, Benue State should not be part of this, there is no need for it.”