Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom says the Presidency and the security agencies ignored security alerts provided by his government ahead of the many killings, particularly of the recent 72 Benue indigenes by Fulani herdsmen.
The governor, who made the claim while meeting with members of Senate Ethics Committee on Security and Infrastructure, which visited the state, said that President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, and Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, all ignored several warnings sent by the state government alerting them to the planned attack on Logo and Guma communities in Benue.
The governor told the Senate Committee led by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, that security agencies were also guilty of the continued killing of inhabitants of the state by Fulani herdsmen since 2008.
According to him, once the state government got the information of planned attack by Fulani herdsmen, he wrote a letter to the Vice-President Osinbajo, who was by then the Acting President, while President Buhari was away for medical treatment in London.
He stated that attempts to get the then Acting President’s attention through the letter were fruitless, as he stated that he got no reply whatsoever.
He also stated that when Buhari returned, he also wrote severally, but received no reply as well.
The governor said when driven by desperation, he made additional efforts to draw the attention of the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno to the threat.
He said the message was contained in separate letters addressed to the NSA, which he said were not replied.
He said: “We wrote to the Vice-President on the planned attack on parts of Benue by Fulani herdsmen, because the word was everywhere on the street, but he refused to reply.
“And when there was no response, and when Mr President came back, I personally went and intimated him, and I also wrote. The documents are here. I will hand them over to you. I wrote to him on the planned attack by Fulani herdsmen because these threats were [real] on the streets.
“I intimated Mr President and it was put to writing. On the same October 7, 2017, I wrote to the Inspector General of Police. I told him of a planned attack on our people.When there was no response, on October 27, 2017, I reminded him that these people are planning to attack us. We are law-abiding; we have disarmed our youths, and we are looking unto security agencies. And the way to do it is to arrest those people who were inciting the herdsmen to combat us, and we knew they were going to come.
“These people were all over the place: on television, in papers, doing various press conferences, and they eventually took us to court. But we felt that it was a crime for anyone to incite people against us with the purpose of killing or causing harm, destruction. So, we expected them (security agencies) to act, but there was no action.”
“Of course, I wrote to the Senate President for information, and the Speaker. I also wrote on 7th of October. When I was writing to the Acting President and Inspector General of Police, I also wrote to the National Security Adviser on this planned attack against Benue people. I also wrote to the Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS). And when there was no action, I followed it up with a reminder on 27th of October, 2017. So, that was it, and also on the 17th of October, I wrote to the president and I copied the National Security Adviser. There was no response. Of course, the National Security Adviser invited us for a meeting two times, but it was put off.
“This is very sad. Those people who are responsible for these killings, I know. I accuse them and I have evidence against them in newspaper publications; they are in video; they are in audio, and they are known.
“If I had wanted to buy guns, I wouldn’t wait. But if I bought guns and gave to those people, would my people have been killed in the manner they were killed? I disarmed the people. I’ve not bought a single gun. I’m a Christian. If I bought, I would say yes,” Ortom said.
On the claims that the Governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lalong, warned him against introducing the anti-grazing law in Benue, Ortom replied: “So, the sponsored write ups in the papers and the sponsored speech by my colleague in Plateau State, he said he warned me. How can you warn me? Am I the governor of Plateau State, Or am I his staff? Do I work for him? I’m Governor of Benue State, and my responsibility is to do what my people want. That is what democracy is.
“So, when you castigate people about because you were induced by someone, and you come out to make those kinds of statements, then it’s unfortunate.
“Remember, this is the same man, a double standard person, who told me when I visited Jos three weeks ago, he told me that he is under pressure by his people to do the same law that I did in Benue State. He told me this. He never warned me anywhere. He’s just trying to use that to blackmail me. What crime have I committed?” he queried.
He added: “Is this how we want to continue as a country? Where some people are given privilege to be lawless?”
Meanwhile, Governor Ortom and a first class traditional ruler in the state, Abu Shuluwa, have condemned the statement credited to Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, that people in Middle Belt had all along been killing Fulani herdsmen in their domains.
Ortom, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, said there was never a time Benue people raised their hands against Fulani herdsmen.
According to him, ‘Tiv people have not been killing Fulani, the whole world knows who has been the aggressor and who has been the victim in these attacks and the victim is Tivland.”
Governor Ortom further reiterated his stand that anti-open grazing is the global best practice to avert constant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
Also reacting, the first class chief in the state, Tor Zankera, Chief Abu Shuluwa, described the statement as ‘unfortunate.’
“I mean unfortunate for a traditional ruler who is expected to maintain peace, especially in crisis situation, traditional rulers are not expected to fuel crisis.”
Shuluwa noted that the emir must have been misrepresented considering his roles as a father in the country whose wise counsel was needed during crisis time.
“I doubt an emir of that status could make such sweeping statement; possibly, he was misquoted, but if truly he said so, then it is unfortunate.”
In another development, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has apologized to his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, over his comment condemning the implementation of anti-open grazing law in the state.
The Plateau state governor had attributed recent killing of over 70 persons in Benue State to the implementation of anti-grazing law by Gov. Ortom.
He also said he had warned Ortom against implementing the law.
His comment sparked outrage and condemnation from diverse segments of Nigerians.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja Lalong said “Concerning the lingering issue after my presidential visit in respect to the crisis in Benue State I apologies to the Governor and people of Benue sate”.
He continued “first of all, let me use this opportunity to once again extend my felicitation and also to extend our condolences to the people of Benue state over this great loss. My prayer is that God would continue to give them and every Nigerian the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss . I must say that I humbly apologize for my comment because I have seen that it was really misconceived and misinterpreted.
“The comment generated a lot of social media attention . So I apologize for that because either argument for or against does not help the matter because it involves loss of lives. I have great respect the people and feel pained by the loss of lives. I am also concerned about the unity of the middle belt.
“I would not want any impression created that Plateau is fighting Benue state at all, we are all brothers and sisters. Benue was created out of Plateau and Nassarawa was created out of Plateau, we still remain brothers and sisters .”
The Governor continued “I once again extend my apologies to the Governor. I pray to all the families of the deceased that God almighty will give them the fortitude to bear the loss.and also grant souls of the departed eternal rest.”
Ensure Security Of Govt Projects, SSG Tasks Community Leaders
The Secretary to Rivers State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, has implored leaders of community associations in the state to monitor ongoing projects in their communities to ensure that the security of the contracting firms was not compromised.
Danagogo made this assertion when the leaders of a socio-cultural group, Nyemoni Awome Ogbo of Abonnema, paid him a courtesy visit in Port Harcourt, last Tuesday.
On the ongoing Trans-KalabariRoad project, Danagogo noted that the governor’s determination to deliver the first phase of the road in 14 months was unshakable as it was cash-backed.
“This is a crucial project to the development of Kalabari Kingdom. Every right-thinking Kalabari person must condemn, and avoid anything that will cause delays to the project delivery. What the governor is doing for us is unprecedented in the annals of the history of governance in this state.
“As Kalabari people, we must condemn every gang-up to sabotage the development of the Trans-Kalabari Road project. This road project is being executed to transform our communities, and this government is doing it for us. If our own people either by acts of omission are trying to sabotage this developmental effort, then, you must be proactive in condemning it and stopping them. You must as leaders commend what deserves commendation, and condemn what deserves condemnation”.
The SSG further condemned the recent kidnap of a staff of the contracting company, and particularly noted with dismay the sad comments made by notorious Kalabari group whose founder/leader is a known kidnapper and illegal bunkerer who owes Kalabari and Rivers State explanation and apology for several kidnappings, including the kidnap of the wife of the late High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs.
He urged Kalabari leaders not to allow people without meaningful source of livelihood or good intentions to speak on their behalf.
Earlier, the former President of Nyemoni Awome Ogbo of Abonnema, Prof. Adaye Orugbani, had said that the visit was to serve as an opportunity for the association to express its appreciation to Governor Nyesom Wike for his benevolence and love for the people of Kalabari Kingdom and Akuku Toru Local Government Area in particular.
“We are here to thank the governor through the SSG for the immense developmental projects in our community. These projects are crucial to the development of our community, particularly the Ring Road. In a record time, he commenced and completed the project.
“As an island, it used to be difficult to access Abonnema Town, but today, we have easy access in and out of the town because of the Ring Road. As an island community, the land is scarce and expensive, but the sand-filling projects of 52 hectares of land also awarded by Governor Nyesom Wike will provide us with more land for other developmental projects and expansion,” he stressed.
Orugbani added that the ongoing Trans-Kalabari Road project was a goldmine that all sons and daughters of Kalabari Kingdom should be happy about.
Rivers Exco Approves N5bn To Resuscitate Health Institutions
The Rivers State Executive Council has approved over N5billion required for the revamping of the Prof. Kelsey Harrison Hospital, and the Dental and Maxillofacial Hospital located in Port Harcourt.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, presided over the meeting that held at the Executive Council Chamber of Government House, Port Harcourt, last Wednesday.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike said, the approved sum would be spent on renovation, rehabilitation and installation of medical equipment at the health facilities.
“For the Prof. Kelsey Harrison Hospital in Port Harcourt, the civil work is to cost N1, 007, 205, 941, 51, while the equipping and furnishing and installation of medical equipment will cost N693, 570, 367, 25.”
The commissioner said the work at the Prof. Kelsey Harrison Hospital was expected to last for a period of 13 months, and when completed, would be an affiliate of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, to add to the training of medical doctors and medical personnel.
Chike also spoke about the approval given for the revamp of the Dental and Maxillofacial Hospital, which he said, when completed, would also be affiliated to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital for the training of medical personnel.
“The civil work is to cost N1, 789, 395, 743, 87 only, while, the equipping, installation and furnishing will cost N1, 590, 671, 047,31.”
Chike also provided explanation as to why the Mother and Child Hospital has not commenced full operations after it was officially inaugurated.
He said the Council had approved a committee which was working together with the Bureau for Public/Private Procurement, to make sure that the necessary processes for seamless take off of the hospital was put in place so that the facility can offer maximal service to the public.
Chike stressed that the State Executive Council was also briefed about the approval given by the Medical and Dental Council to the Rivers State University College of Medical Sciences to admit 100 students per session.
The commissioner said the cases of Covid-19 in the state have continued to grow because residents have refused to observe the Covid-19 protocols.
He called on residents in the state to avoid crowded areas like weddings, burial events, market places, wash their hands regularly, and also wear facemasks.
Also speaking to journalists, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said council approved that a bill be sent to the Rivers State House of Assembly for the enactment of a law for judicial officers to own their houses on retirement.
He explained that the approval was in line with policy of the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration to ensure that judicial officers who put in their best to ensure that justice was done in a very fair manner in the state were well housed after their service years.
“And to entrench this as its policy, a bill has been sent to the Rivers State House of Assembly for the enactment of a law,so that, at the end of this administration, subsequent administrations that will come will ensure that this policy is not toiled with”, Nsirim said.
Nsirim also said that Rivers State has been approved as the South-South Zonal Headquarters of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
According to him, the state was to also establish a Judicial Institute for the training of judges and magistrates which would complement the activities of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
“The establishment of the institute is a way of helping to ensure that judges and magistrates who are in the state here have regular training as a way of updating them on their skills to complement what the National Judicial Service Commission does for them.”
On his part, the Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on Special Projects, Dax Alabo George Kelly, said the council ratified the approval given for the construction of Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt.
According to him, all the structures both on the campus in Rumueme community and at the staff quarters opposite the Hotel Presidential will be completed within the stipulated seven months, and ready as part of projects to celebrate the third-year of anniversary of Governor Nyesom Wike’s second tenure next year.
Scare As EFCC Chairman Slumps At Aso Rock
The Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, reportedly slumped, and was rushed out of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
Bawa was giving his goodwill message at the National Identity Day celebration when he suddenly stopped speaking.
According to reports, Bawa was talking about a man the commission arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State, with 116 SIM cards when the incident happened.
Bawa had stopped talking and covered his face with his right palm, saying, “Please, excuse me, I can’t continue.”
However, in a swift reaction to the incident, the organisation’s Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said that Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa,was hale and hearty.
He said in a two-paragraph statement, yesterday afternoon that, while giving a goodwill message at an event at the Presidential Villa, yesterday morning, Bawa felt unwell and decided to return to his seat.
The statement reads in full, “The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa is hale and hearty.
“This clarification became necessary following an incident today September 16, 2021, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where he was giving a goodwill message to the National Identity Day celebration, felt unwell and had to return to his seat.
“He has since received medical attention and is due back at his desk”.
Meanwhile, the reason the Chairman of the Economic and Crimes Commission, Abdurasheed Bawa, collapsed while delivering a goodwill message at the National Identity Day at Banquet Hall, State House Abuja, has been revealed.
Bawa was rushed to the State House Clinic for medical attention.
Reacting to the development, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, attributed the collapse to pressure and work burden.
He enjoined Nigerians to pray for Bawa, noting that he has regained consciousness.
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