By George OkohÂ in Makurdi
Benue State Government yesterday took a swipe atÂ Â the Jamat’atu Nasir Islam(JNI)/over its recent comment that the Benue State governor was attributing the spate of herdsmen killing to the late Usman Danfodio’s Jihad.
In the press statement issued by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, it statedÂ Â that instead of the JNI accusing him, it shouldÂ Â rather blame the leadership of Miyeiti Ala Kauta Hore.
While describing the statement by JNIÂ Â Secretary General, Dr. Abubakar Khalid AliyuÂ Â as inappropriate and attempt to instigate religious hatred against him, the governor said that he was only reacting to the specific questions and that he quoted the threats by leaders of Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, Miyeiti Ala Kautal Hore and Miyeiti Ala Cattle Herders Association who had claimed that the attacks on Benue was a Jihad and struggle for control of natural resources in the state.
Ortom said that the impression being created by the organisation thatÂ Â he (Ortom) attacked the leadership of Nigerian Muslims in his comments wasÂ Â misleading andÂ Â a deliberate attempt to cast the him in bad light before Muslims in the country.
Governor Ortom cited.various statements and video clips to buttress that such statements were made by leadership of the various association andÂ Â reiterated his call for the arrest of the leadership of the groups to prevent further killings in the state.
The governor said he has enormous respect for the leadership of Jama’atul Nasir Islam and all other Nigerian Muslims and would not have launched an attack on the religion.Â
“We reject and condemn this negative branding of the Governor by JNI.”
He explained that his administrationÂ Â embraced and encouraged all religious groups in the state especially the Muslim community as evident in the cordial relationship between hisÂ Â administration and leadership of the Islamic faith.Â
“It is therefore strange that the headquarters of Jama’atul Nasir Islam has chosen to assault the Governor’s reputation on a matter which has verifiable evidence unconnected with him.”
The statement said ‘Governor Ortom has demonstrated statesmanship and focus in handling the security challenge in the state and he appreciates the contributions of all stakeholders particularly religious leaders both Christian and Muslim towards the return of peace to the affected parts of Benue State.”