Ortom at Senate, Presents Copies of Letters on Security Threat to Presidency

  • Says IG has no business determining which law is good

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State wednesday appeared before the Senate Committee on Police over the killings in the state, where he presented copies of his letter notifying Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of pending attacks by armed herdsmen in the state.

At the meeting which was held behind closed doors, Ortom also made it clear that the Inspector General of Police (G), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, has no business determining whether the anti-open grazing law is good, but has the constitutional mandate to uphold it.

Sources privy to the details of the meeting told THISDAY that Ortom also presented copies of the letters which he wrote to security agencies over the pending attacks, before the attacks which claimed over 73 lives happened on January 2 and 3, 2018.

The committee had been mandated by the Senate to meet with Ortom for his submissions, following allegations levelled against him by Idris.

Idris at a recent meeting with the committee on his level of compliance with the resolution to apprehend the perpetrators of the attacks and hand them over to the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice for prosecution, had blamed the implementation of the anti-open grazing law for the attacks.

Idris had also accused Ortom of making inflammatory statements, and further inciting violence by publicly displaying the bodies of the victims of the attacks. He also accused Ortom of arming Tiv militia, thus encouraging the proliferation of small arms and ammunition.

Ortom expressed a vote of no confidence on Idris, whom he accused of taking sides in the crises.
A lawmaker who spoke off record said the governor also maintained that his letter to Osinbajo as acting president, written in October 2017, was on the security threat, contrary to claims by the VP’s office that the letter was not about the impending attacks.

“He presented copies of the letter to the VP, and to security agencies. He also told the committee that he personally met with the president after he returned to brief him on the impending threat.”
“The governor’s position is that there is a complicity against Benue State in high places, particularly when considering that no action was taken to avert the attacks, and comments credited to the IG, and the Minister of Defence. Tiv people are also being attacked in Nasarawa State.”

“In the first place, the IG has no business pronouncing a law as good or bad, his job is to implement the law. He said it was communal crises, not so? But policemen are also being killed by the herders, do the policemen and civil defence men who were murdered have communal issues with the herders? He has taken sides, his men are being killed and he is not saying anything.”

“The governor made it clear that he has no confidence in the IG’s ability to provide security. He stayed in Benue State for just one day contrary to the orders given to him by the president to relocate to the state,” the lawmaker said.

He explained further that the governor chronicled the developments which led to the enactment of the law, particularly the Agatu killings which claimed hundreds of lives.

“The latest crises have left the state with about 160,000 refugees in nine camps, and several communities are still occupied by armed herdsmen. These are the things he made clear to the committee,” the lawmaker added.