The leadership and membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue have called on Governor Samuel Ortom to tender an unreserved apology to President Muhammadu Buhari, for using foul language and for operating outside the set rules of engagement between the State and the Federal Government.
The Benue APC also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to thoroughly investigate the application of the total federal allocations to Benue State from May 29, 2015 to date, totalling N578 billion.
Leader of the Benue APC and Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, George Akume made these calls at a press conference in Abuja on Monday in response to what he described as the lonesome bitter and sustained campaign of calumny launched by Governor Ortom against
the person and office of the President.
Governor Ortom had during an interview on the Channels Television programme “Sunrise Daily” on Tuesday said President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda on open grazing is to ‘Fulanize’ Nigeria.
But Akume said the Benue APC is outraged by Ortom’s manner of approach to President Buhari which is devoid of simple decency and respect required of a younger person both in age and official government hierarchy.
According to the former Benue State Governor, “the President has delivered all his obligations to the Governor and people of Benue State by ensuring regular and prompt releases of state’s and local government’s monthly federal allocations, all which amount to about Five Hundred Billion Naira (N500 billion) since Ortom’s assumption of office as Governor in 2015.
“Furthermore, President Buhari had released Forty Billion (N40 billion) Naira to the Ortom administration as bail out funds to enable him pay outstanding salaries, pensions and allowances, as well as another Twenty-Eight Billion Naira (N28 billion) released to Governor Ortom as refunds from the Paris Club refund, just as also, the President graciously sent an extra Ten Billion (N10 billion) to the Benue State Governor to enable him provide infrastructures for the people of Benue State.
He said, the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency direct the disbandment of the Livestock Guards in Benue State for their involvement in nefarious and criminal activities leading to the breach of peace and massacre of innocent citizens of Benue State.
The Minister lamented that there is a high level of proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Benue State, praying the federal government to thoroughly comb the State to recover those arms.
“Since Governor Ortom has consistently alleged that the security situation in Benue State has deteriorated in such a manner that lives of Benue people are not secured, we call on Mr. President as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to declare a state of emergency in Benue State to bring the security situation in the state under control.
“Let me use this opportunity to commend President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for his resilience and steadfastness in driving the development agenda of his administration nationally and especially in Benue State.
“The men and women of good conscience in Benue State are in full support of his administration and stand to condemn the ethnic profiling propagated by Governor Samuel Ortom. We are better than that as a people. We, the APC elders/stakeholders in Benue State pledge our total and unflinching support to Mr. President and his administration.
“Finally, we hereby roundly condemn the senseless killings that have been going on in Benue State perpetrated by criminal groups, be they the Fulani herdsmen, militia groups and political mercenaries acting the scripts of so-called political leaders. Benue State should not be allowed to degenerate into a primitive and mindless killing field at a time other states are reaping bountiful dividends of democracy.
“Our hearts go out to all the families that have lost loved ones, some of whom are presently mourning their unburied dead relatives. We pray that the Almighty God should grant them the fortitude to pass through this trying times without losing hope in a one united and indivisible nation”, Akume stated.
The former Minority Leader of the Senate said by Ortom’s utterances, he creates an impression that Benue State is a sovereign nation which he reigns over to the exclusion of President Buhari.
He accused his estranged political godson of fanning members of ethnic bigotry and hate emphasising that he (Ortom) was the leader of the Tiv nation while President Buhari is the leader of the Fulanis.
“He discontenances the fact that to fight insecurity in any part of the nation is a joint effort among the Federal, State and local governments, of which President Buhari regularly assigns various Armed Forces formations to help Benue in the exercise. Rather, Governor Ortom has destroyed the local government system which should help nip in the bud, cases of insecurity; allocates to himself a monthly allocation of Eight Hundred Million Naira (N800 million) as security votes, squanders same and then sits back to criticise President Buhari for his failure to arrest and prosecute criminal elements in Benue State.
“Does Benue State not have an Attorney General to prepare cases for prosecution? Does the Police reject Governor Ortom’s orders to arrest criminals because the President has given counter orders?
“We are dismayed by this crass incompetence exhibited by the governor. His rantings are irritating and smacks of tricks of a conman. It is crystal clear that the ultimate solution to the Benue insecurity would be, as Governor Ortom himself had earlier this year said that the President should declare a state of emergency in Benue State with approval of the National Assembly.
“Governor Ortom is clueless, his gangsterism and foul language to disparage decent people could further deteriorate the security situation in Benue State. We urge security agencies to immediately arrest all criminal elements Governor Ortom is using to perpetuate insecurity and bring normalcy to the troubled state”, Akume said.
He demanded that the Governor should render account of the arbitrary N800 million monthly allocations he appropriates to himself as security votes as well as the over N200 million monthly deductions he makes from the Local Government Joint Account in the pretext of catering for the IDP camps, and yet he funds no solution to the insecurity and IDP camps situation.
The Minister also demanded true accountability for the billions of Naira released to Benue broad funds and invited the EFCC to step into the matter and help the Benue people in the evil extortion.
The retired Permanent Secretary alleged that Ortom is masterminding a certain narrative of hate and tribal bigotry based on the wrong perception of history, saying the Governor’s persistent allusion of the Buhari Administration as the reincarnation of the 1804 Sokoto Jihad is mischievous and treasonable. Nations are respected for their
“The Fulani herdsmen in their itinerant lifestyle also lived among our people peacefully for centuries as they tended their livestock. Through their legendary and historical affinity with the Tiv people, the Fulanis have always regarded the Tiv people as partners and friends in rural livelihood.
“Successive generations of Tiv and Fulani sons and daughters have inherited this mutual respect and jokes their forefathers passed onto them. We have seen a true manifestation of this affinity between the Tiv and Fulanis since the time of the Late Sardauna of Sokoto, late President Shehu Shagari, through the time of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and now to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We cannot allow Governor Ortom with a faulty sense of history to evoke enmity and hatred between Benue and the Fulanis simply because he lacks the statecraft to handle contemporary challenges.
“Few of the notable reckless killings under Ortom’s watch include the death of late Chief Dr. Terkula Suswam, a PDP chieftain and elder brother of the former governor of Benue State, Senator Gabriel Suswam, who was killed in cold blood at his country home at Anyiin. Others are the late prominent politician Atoza Ihindan, Ortom’s late Security Adviser, Mr. Denen Igbana, his late economic adviser, Dr. Tavershima Adyorough, the late renowned academic, Dr Akase Angou, and the late AIG Christopher Dega (rtd), all who were allegedly killed in brutal cross – militia encounters. To say the least, Governor Ortom has lost control of the state and the residents live in fear of untamed youths and gunmen”, he added.