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Ortom: I’m Being Targeted Over Benue Anti-open Grazing Law
George Okoh in Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has disclosed that his life is in danger alleging that prominent Fulanis and the deposed Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, is inciting a faceless group to eliminate him.
Ortom, who stated this at a world press conference he held in Benue Government House, Makurdi, on Thursday, was responding to a “write-up signed by 52 personalities of Fulani extraction led by the deposed Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi in form of a letter to Mr. President in which they accused him of being responsible for the recent killing of some pastoralists at Akwanaja, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State via a bomb attack.
The governor said in a desperate attempt to set him up for hatred, vilification and attacks, the group which refused to give itself a name, tried to link the Benue State Livestock Guards with the killings, claiming that the pastoralists were bombed on their way from Benue to Nasarawa after they had retrieved their cattles.
“The group maliciously accused me of carrying out genocide against pastoralists. The dethroned Emir Sanusi did not stop at that. He made a video in Hausa in which he maligned me and called on all Fulanis to consider me as their enemy while urging those in Benue State to vote against me during the coming elections.”
Ortom said, “I consider these allegations and blackmail targeted at my person and the Government of Benue State as part of a grand conspiracy by enemies of the state to eliminate me.
“I consider the statement by the nameless group led by Lamido Sanusi as a mockery of thousands of Benue people killed by Fulani herdsmen.
“The group has chosen to spit on the graves of our people in a manner that smacks of impunity and lack of humanity.”
He stated that as soon as he leaves the conference, he would also write to the President to demand that Lamido Sanusi be arrested for instigating his elimination and other attacks on the people of Benue State.
Ortom, who recalled that on the 20th of March, 2021, he was attacked at Tyo-Mu along Makurdi-Gboko Road by herdsmen, stated that since he enacted the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law in 2017, he has survived seven assassination attempts on his life.
“After the attempt on my life, a group named Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) issued a press statement taking responsibility for the assassination attempt. They said I escaped because of a technical error, but that I wouldn’t be lucky another time. They vowed to get me at all costs.
“The recent utterances of some personalities such as Lamido Sanusi have revealed the true identities of those behind the sinister agenda to eliminate me. But my life is in the hands of God and only He can permit anything evil to come my way,” he said.
Ortom said he is using the conference to call the attention of Nigerians and the international community to know that his life is in danger.
The governor advised the persons who wrote to the President claiming to have the interest of Nigeria at heart to stop playing politics with security matters.
“The individuals and groups pushing for the repeal of the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law ought to know that they are wasting their time. The law has come to stay. Anyone who wants to rear animals in Benue State should be prepared to do so in ranches and according to provisions of the law.
“We will not be distracted by the avalanche of smear and hate campaigns against us. I have the mandate of my people and with the last pint of my blood, I will protect their interests till the day I leave office as governor,” he said.