The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has said that the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, was not responsible for insecurity in Benue and the nation at large.
This is even as the Forum condemned any attempt on the life of the governor.
Warning against the alleged plot to instigate crisis in Benue State with the sole aim of having the Federal Government impose a state of emergency on the state, the MBF noted that the governor has been in the vanguard of calling out criminal elements engaged in carrying out murderous assaults on the communities, which have led to the destruction of hundreds of towns and villages.
MBF, in a statement by its National President, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, said that despite pressure and threat from those that are determined to continue with the culture of bloodbath and massive destruction by armed and brutal Fulani militia, Governor Ortom has remained unswerving to the defence of his people by insisting that the anti-open grazing law can never be reversed.
“It is in clear acknowledgement of the imperatives of the anti-open grazing as means to ending the bloodbath in Benue State and other states of the Middle Belt that the Southern governors also outlawed open grazing to stop the rising spate of bloodshed and destruction associated with the activities of herdsmen,” the group said.
The MBF said: “The attention of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has been drawn to the alleged threats on the life of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State by forces opposed to his persistent and clear stance against open grazing of cattle in Nigeria, especially in the Middle Belt Region. More infuriating to those plotting against the Benue governor is his insistence that the 2023 presidency must not be retained by the North; a position that was recently adopted by the Forum at its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.
“Apart from standing as the clear symbol of what the Middle Belt stands for, the irrepressible Benue governor has been in the vanguard of calling out criminal elements engaged in carrying out murderous assaults on our communities, which have led to the destruction of hundreds of our towns and villages, with some of our people forced to seek sanctuary in various internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps that are poorly catered for by some state governments and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Considering the irreversible determination of Governor Ortom to stand with his people on power rotation to the South in 2023 and his unbending opposition to rescind the anti-open grazing law, anti-democratic forces are alleged to be working underground to instigate crisis with the sole aim of having the Federal Government impose a state of emergency on Benue.
“As the umbrella organisation for ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt region, the Forum condemns all forms of provocations in whatever disguise that can threaten the present fragile peace in the state. We call on trouble makers that are acting at the behest of forces opposed to security in not only Benue State but also the Middle Belt region to quickly sheathe the sword. We also call on security agencies to intervene and arrest Fulani herdsmen that have taken over several parts of Guma Local Government Area where Governor Ortom hails from.”
The Forum urged the security agents to pay close attention to the activities of the murdering herdsmen in order to stave off new waves of genocidal attacks and destruction of property in not only Benue but also the Middle Belt and the entire country.
President Muhammadu Buhari should rise up to his responsibility of protecting vulnerable communities against these human butcheries. The anti-open grazing law that was properly passed by the Benue lawmakers should be respected by the Federal Government as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
“We wish to draw the attention of Nigerians and the international community that what is presently happening now in Benue could turn out a dress rehearsal for yet another deadly round of violence. In the event of any destruction unleashed on Benue State or any harm visited on Governor Ortom, the Middle Belt shall hold President Buhari responsible.