The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, should forget about getting a second term in office in 2019, according to the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM), an umbrella body of herdsmen.
In a Friday statement signed by its National President, Alhaji Salisu Ahmadu and Secretary, Umar Shehu, the group accused Ortom of hiding under the anti-grazing law to perpetrate atrocities against herdsmen and conniving with personnel of the ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ to chase herdsmen away from the state.
The group further said it would mobilise its members to vote for a governor that would protect its right to legitimate business operation in Benue State.
The statement read in part, “We are aware that Governor Ortom is not only in support of the inhuman treatment and callous attacks on our members, but he is the major source of financial and logistical supports to the soldiers who are out to eliminate us from the state.
“Our helpless members have lost thousands of cows in the last ten months that the ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ came into effect in Benue State.
“The sad reality is that the Governor, after failing to use the Anti-Open Grazing Law to prevent us from carrying out our lawful business in his state, has now found an ally in the Nigerian Military who should be neutral at all times.
“We also want to make it clear that we shall mobilize our members across the country and embark on an indefinite strike, stopping the sell of beef and other diary products if the harassment in Benue is not stopped immediately.
“We also urge our members in Benue State to ensure that they participate in the electoral process by voting to reject Governor Ortom in the forthcoming election.
“Our members need to stay in the Benue Valley and ply their trade, hence the need to support whoever promises to accept us as the good neighbours that we are.”
But in its reaction, the state government denied hounding herdsmen, adding that the anti-open grazing law enacted in the state was due to popular demand.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, Ortom described the allegations by the group as “spurious” and “shocking”.
He stressed that anti-open grazing law was necessary to maintain lasting peace between herdsmen and farmers.
Ortom noted that he has supported the Operation Whirl Stroke to maintain security in the state