South-west Govs Tackle Lawan, Say Crisis Entrepreneurs Won’t be Dignified

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South West governors in a group photograph after their security summit.

•Senate president’s accusation uncalled for, insists Makinde
• Ortom accuses Mohammed of accessory to terrorism

By James Sowole in Akure, Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan, Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti and George Okoh in Makurdi

South-west governors yesterday took on President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, over his attack on them for allegedly inciting the recent ethnic violence, which erupted in some states in the region.

They, however, said they would not engage in a media war with those they described as crisis entrepreneurs and divisionists on matters affecting the security of residents of the country, especially the South-west.

In another dimension to the crisis which has pitted governors against one another, the Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, accused his Bauchi State counterpart, Senator Bala Mohammed, of being part of the Fulani terrorist organisation terrorising Nigeria.

Lawan, in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), had accused the governors of instigating the crisis through their unguarded utterances.

He described what happened in some parts of the South-west particularly, in Ibadan, Oyo State where the tension boiled over, resulting in a clash between Hausa and Yoruba traders at Shasha Market, as a failure of leadership.

But in a riposte to Lawan, Chairman of the South-west Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), said the governors would not engage in a media war with any person or group of persons on matters affecting the security of residents of the country especially in the South-west.

Akeredolu, in a statement by his Special Assistant on New Media, Mr. Olabode Olatunde, to THISDAY said: “At the risk of being repetitive, the Governor Akeredolu-led South-west governors will not go into the arena of media conflict with crisis entrepreneurs and divisionists.”

Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, also described the statement credited to Lawan as unnecessary and uncalled for.

Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said his principal, alongside other governors in the South-west, had worked and would continue to work for the peace of not only the region but the country.

He stated that Makinde has never hidden his position on state police as he believed that some forms of crime are better dealt with using state police.

Adisa said: “One good example of that is the implementation of the state’s anti-open grazing law. During his visit to Ibarapa recently, the governor decried the non-enforcement of the law, adding that such is an area state police would have helped.

“Crime is committed in localities and the existence of state police with people who know the nooks and crannies of areas will in no small way help in fighting crimes. The absence of that as it were, we can say is a hindrance to the wheel of justice on a larger note.”

The Ekiti State government also yesterday said it would not take issue with Lawan over his comment.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Akin Omole, told THISDAY that the state government has no reason to respond to Lawan’s comment since Governor Kayode Fayemi was not directly accused and that there was no evidence of ethnic tension in the state.

Omole stated that since Lawan spoke about the South-west governors, Akeredolu was the right person to reply because he accused the governors together.

The commissioner said the state government would have been ready to respond if Lawan had accused Fayemi of fuelling ethnic tension by his utterances.

“We are neither going to reply nor take issue with Senator Ahmad Lawan over the allegation. This is because he didn’t accuse Governor Fayemi of making any comment that could be perceived as fuelling ethnic tension.

“Since he spoke about the South-west, the Chairman of the South-west governors and Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, is the right person that will reply because he accused the governors together,” Omole added.

Speaking on giant actions being taken by Fayemi to foster ethnic harmony in Ekiti State, Omole said a committee comprising all ethnic nationalities had been composed to fine-tune arrangements on how all contending issues generating ripples could be tackled.

“You are all aware of the committee that has been sitting with all the security chiefs to address every contending issue. Representatives of Yoruba, Fulani, Ebira, Hausa, Igbo and others are there. Even our traditional rulers are involved.

“To us in Ekiti, we are not going to get involved in ethnic profiling on the issue of criminality. We will deal with every criminal based on what the law says, not minding where the perpetrators came from,” he said.

Ortom Accuses Mohammed of Accessory to Terrorism

In a related development, Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, has accused his Bauchi State counterpart, Senator Bala Mohammed, of being part of the Fulani terrorist organisation, terrorising Nigeria.

Ortom, who also accused Mohammed of being part of the plot to assassinate him, called on the Bauchi State governor to apologise to Nigerians over his comments that herdsmen should carry AK-47 and other sophisticated weapons.

While addressing journalists yesterday in Makurdi, the Benue State governor said Bauchi State counterpart’s comment was uncalled for and an indication that he was part of those terrorising the country.

According to him, Nigeria’s constitution does not allow anyone except security agents to carry arms.

He called on Mohammed to go back and read the constitution to keep himself abreast of such issues.

Ortom said: “I wouldn’t want to be taking issues with my brother, friend, and colleague, Bauchi governor. But since he has continued to vilify, intimidate and blackmail me, it is said that silence is consent. I am compelled to respond to him.

“I am beginning to think that my brother, the governor of Bauchi State, is part of the terrorist Fulani organisation that is terrorising this country.

“Why do I say this? This is the same governor who took the oath of office to protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This constitution does not leave room for allowing foreign herdsmen to come in without valid papers.

“This is a man who says that a Fulani man is a global man and can come in from anywhere and enter Nigeria. It is quite disappointing to hear a governor who took the oath of office …maybe he should go back and check the oath of office he took to check may be the constitution gives room for foreign terrorist Fulani herdsmen to come into Nigeria.”

Ortom alleged that Mohammed is part of a conspiracy and plan to assassinate him and unleash terror on Benue State.

He said the statement and utterances by Mohammed showed that he had a hand in a threat letter written to him (Ortom) by a Fulani terrorist group to assassinate him.

The governor added that he had no issue with Fulani or any other tribe who wants to reside in Benue State, but such people must obey the rule of law while in the state.

Reacting to Mohammed’s statement that herders can carry AK-47 to defend themselves, Ortom said: “His recent outburst that Fulani herdsmen are justified for carrying AK-47 to protect themselves, I don’t know where the constitution of this country allows that.”

Ortom called on Mohammed to apologise and learn from the provisions of the constitution that land both territorial, forest, and aquatic, are vested on the governor of a state who holds them in trust, instead of indulging in inciting Fulani herdsmen against innocent Nigerians.

The governor urged Mohammed to learn from the governors of Kano and Kaduna States as well as scholars who had supported calls to ban open grazing and the need not to pamper bandits.

He said herdsmen not willing to obey the laws of the state should relocate to Bauchi where Mohammed would allow them to carry guns.

The governor said his call for the declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria was a patriotic one that has the backing of senators.

He expressed the hope that his letter to President Muhammadu Buhari would receive the desired attention.

He sympathised with his Niger State counterpart over the recent kidnapping of Government Science College, Kagara pupils and commuters by gunmen.

The governor, who also spoke on a variety of issues, lauded security agents for improved security in the Sankera, saying the ban on the use of motorcycles in Katsina-Ala has yielded positive results.