Dejected Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who met behind closed doors for two hours with President Muhammadu Buhari over the unending murder of Benue indigenes and farmers by rampaging Fulani herdsmen, has rejected federal government’s plans to establish colonies for cattle rearing.
Emerging from the meeting with Buhari, Ortom, who said he would support any measure to stop the carnage, however, insisted on ranching of cattle by the herdsmen like is done in other African countries as against the option of creating ‘grazing colonies’.
According to the Governor, “I’m waiting to be briefed about what colonies means, I don’t understand it and until I understand it…but like I keep saying, for us the way forward is ranching and uptil this time I am talking to you, the way forward is ranching because is global best practice. And it is not just practice in other parts of the world, on African soil in Swaziland, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique almost all African countries that rear cattle, they ranch, so why can’t we do the same thing here.
“For the colony thing I don’t know what colony is.”
Ortom who spoke on his meeting with the President however, pledged to give all necessary support to the latest security deployment to the state as directed by the President, even as he lamented that the herdsmen only hours earlier attacked a contingent of mobile policemen in the affected area, beheaded two of them and severely injured others.
“I had earlier briefed Mr. President when this incident took place on the 1st of January. After staying back on the ground to do the needful to ensure that we restore normalcy I said it was important for me to come personally and brief him and that has been done.
“Already, because of the communications we have been having when this incidents started, actions have been taken as directed by him. The movement of the DIG, the movement of the IG now to relocate to Benue State to ensure that this challenge is surmounted was at the instance of Mr. President. Of course additional personally of DSS and Police have been deployed and even the Army. We have additional personnel on ground now. We have adequately and fully given them the logistics support to ensure that our people are protected.
“I had to brief him, he is also doing further investigation to know the next line of action. I believe that my request that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who has earlier threatened and I accused them directly, since June last year I have been writing to the leadership of security agencies, that these people are a threat to our collective interest and they must be dealt with. They must be arrested and prosecuted because we cannot allow impunity to continue to thrive. And of course threat and no action has resulted in this killing and I think that Mr. President will also do the needful to ensure something is done.”
On allegations that he hired mercenaries from Republic of Ghana to fight herdsmen, he said: “I’m not aware of this and I don’t even know about that one, I’m hearing it for the first time. If someone has done that it must be this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, that have done it.”
On the allegations that he was blocked from seeing Mr. President, Ortom said, “I have never accused anyone of blocking me from seeing Mr. President. I’m seeing Mr. President. I told you when this incident occurred I spoke to Mr. President on phone and followed it up. I know what it entails being a President, even as governor most times I am not with my phone, people cannot access me the way it used to be talk less of a president. I didn’t say that and I have not said it. The truth is that I have access to Mr. President anytime I want, I speak to him on phone and I see him personally. I requested to speak to him on phone that day because I couldn’t come to Abuja and he gave me the opportunity and today I’m here and I have seen him.”
On suggestion that full blown military operational base be set up in Benue like other places, he said, “Anything that can stop the killings of my people I will go for it, I support it. Any policy or any directive, anything that will helped stop the killing of these innocent people who are not armed because this can not continue. We know that the continuity of this will create greater challenges. I don’t want it to continue. We are struggling with economic issues, we are struggling with political issues and we are struggling with several other issues in this country, security issues and all that, Benue State should not be part of this there is no need for it.