By Amos Tauna
Kaduna (Nigeria) – A civil activist group, Middle Belt Conscience Guard (MBCG), has accused Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, north central Nigeria, of employing self- serving, admission of incompetence and failure in the task of leadership following the incessant killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the state.
The group expressed dismay that despite the situation the people found themselves in the state, Governor Ortom attached premium to partisanship and quest for re- election even at the detriment of the lives of his subjects by politicizing the crisis to gain political sympathy.
Prince Raymond Enero Convener, and Dr. Paul Itodo Deputy Convener Middle Belt expressed these views in a letter addressed to the Governor.
“Sir, you are pretending to be sympathetic, and so, you divert attention by shouting everywhere about Fulani herdsmen killings. But you have forgotten easily that your refusal to pay salaries of Benue civil servants has killed far more greater number of people than your instigated herdsmen crisis in Benue State.
“Let us remind you that you once wept for civil servants but what is the situation today? We marvel at your lust for power and the very crude means you have deployed to consolidate it.
“Today, you have attempted to discolour and shield your shadows behind the crisis, by trumpeting the passage of the Benue State Anti-Open Grazing Law, which you drum as responsible for the current crisis. This is the handiwork of untrained men with guns without food and money in their pocket.
“This is the height of your deception and hypocrisy against the people of Benue State. Time is extremely overripe for you to do the needful by honourably resigning your position as the executive Governor of Benue state without further delay.
“Mr. Governor, let truth be told courageously that you have failed the people of Benue state and Middle Beltans generally in safeguarding their lives and property.
“We are worried that your hands are soiled with the blood of the innocent victims of the multiple crises you have created in the state and therefore unclean and unfit to continue to be entrusted with the sacred mandate of the people to preside over the fate and destiny of Benue people and the state.
“We are now compelled to accept the widely circulated notion that , you are a Governor and leader who is deliberating creating violence and killings, to cause displacements of victims as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), whom you assemble in camps and wait for governments, sympathizers and humanitarians to donate/extend relief in kind and cash. Such avenues provide your numerous aides with added opportunity to exploit the hapless victims and get richer.”
The group observed that it could no longer subscribe to the governor’s futile arguments or tolerate his grandstanding on the perennial farmers/herders conflict in the Middle Belt, which his leadership has clandestinely exploited in Benue state for obvious political reasons.
“We are no doubt perplexed that in spite of the frightening dimension the crisis has assumed, you are still playing the dangerous game of political correctness, instead of looking inwards to retrace your steps or correct your commissions or omissions which have apparently exacerbated the crisis.
“Mr. Governor Sir, we have keenly and closely monitored your actions proceeding events of January 2018 and what appears to be your disguised posture of silently nurturing the crisis and promoting this bloodbath, leading to its eventual manifestations in many insidious ways than imagined. This forum is appalled at your oblique plots and manipulations to cause the problem of today, since you assumed office, which you thought may never be subjected to public scrutiny, but have kept exposing you day after day.
“Therefore, you are more delighted in creating some myth around it, by shifting the entire blame to President Muhammadu Buhari in rehearsed, by unconvincing public statements.
“You have elected upon yourself to ridicule the office of Mr. President and a leader of Nigeria who has attested in words and deeds that the security of lives and property of Nigerians anywhere they reside in the country is paramount and not negotiable.
“However, blinded by your own fury for a deal gone awry, your desperation to push the blame on an innocent leader is really sickening. Or else, how could you speak glowing about Mr. President ignoring the crisis in Benue state, but gleefully ignore your conscious arming of youths in Benue state as Civilian JTF and Livestock Guards? Is that what you do with security votes?
“Sir, we recall with a lot of displeasure the early attempts by your government to covertly launch the crisis of today, by pretending to initiate an amnesty programme, where you claimed arms and ammunitions were recovered from youths in the state. But we shall not remind you that the amnesty programme was a cover or camouflage, as your government blindfolded the public and used this platform to allegedly re-arm different militias in your state.
“The re-arming of the Benue State civilian JTF and others have resulted to the current crisis. It is also intriguing that upon the arrest of the armed Benue Civilian JTF members who confessed during interrogation to be sponsored by the Benue State Government, and arms supplied through one Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku, you had no patience to wait for investigations to be concluded before rushing to issue a media rebuttal, which is suspicious.
“Yet, in their confessional statements, they claimed the state government owned them five months unpaid stipends. It is not more plausible to argue that the Civilian JTF members had these weapons, even after the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in your state, but were never provoked to bloody violence, until in your accustomed manner, piled up their monthly stipends and they resorted to violence.
“Evidence of your concealed and carefully packaged evil against your people and Nigerians is adduced from the very porous and terrible security situation you plunged the state into; even while you’re so-called amnesty programme was in progress, as unidentified armed youths murdered scores of citizens in the state. This is attested by the serial and gruesome murders of Benue people, including your very senior appointees/ aides and other citizens of the state,” the statement lamented.