Intrigues continue to pervade the Nigerian Political space as former Governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume called a press conference to inform the country that he regretted his deceision to support the incumbent, Governor Samuel Ortom when he was seeking the governorship seat of the state in 2015.
George Akhume alongside other leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC who addressed the press conference tagged it “the dearth of democracy and constitutionalism in the state under Ortom.”
Samuel Ortom contested for the governorship of Benue state under the APC after he was denied the ticket under the PDP in 2015 with the support of George Akhume who was the sitting governor at the time.
Akume vilified Governor Ortom immensely during the press conference as he listed alleged atrocities committed by the Governor since assuming office as Governor of Benue state in 2015.
Newsmen at the conference however asked Akume if he did not hare culpability in these alleged crimes of Ortom going by the fact that he played a major role in the election of the incumbent.
Akume defended himself by reiterating that his deceision to support Ortom at the time had turned out to be a ‘grave error’ not only on his part but also with other leader of the APC. He further stated that he would not be the first World or local leader to make political mistakes.
According to the former Governor;
“Well, world and past leaders in Nigeria had made mistakes in the past. The likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Nnamdi Azikiwe had made mistakes. I’m a human being. Therefore, I can make mistakes. The decision to make Orton the governor was an error. It is regrettable. But human being’s mind is not predictable. You can’t read it. That is just what happened in his case.”
Senator Akume however vowed that the APC will not make such mistakes anymore when picking its candidate for the 2019 Governorship election in the state because a character assessment test would be carried out on candidates vying for the Governorship seat on the ticket of the APC. He also alleged that Benue state was under siege because of Ortom’s deceision to defect to the PDP.
Senator Akume then proceeded to read a prepared speech which read;
“On the 29th day of May 2015, Ortom took the Oath of Office as the Governor of Benue State and swore on the Bible to, among other things, not to allow his personal interest to influence his official conduct or his official decisions; that he would, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that in all circumstances, he would do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
It is however sad and unfortunate that Ortom has engaged himself in clandestine meetings and plans with other desperate people to trample on and to breach the very Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which he swore to protect and uphold.
Upon the defection of Governor Samuel Ortom to the PDP, he has been engaged in serious constitution breaches capable of igniting violence and total breakdown of law and order in Benue State.”
Listing the transgressions of governor Ortom, Akhume said the sitting Governor instigated and orchestrated the unlawful removal of the leadership of the Benue State House of Assembly led by Terkimbi Ikyange and had continued to patronize the Titus Uba led faction of the State Assembly despite a court ruling nullifying their actions.
The statement continued thus;
“In addition, the governor has refused to pay the entitlements of the eight members of the Assembly who have refused to defect to the PDP.
Governor Samuel Ortom, apart from recruiting and arming militia in order to cause mayhem in the 2019 general elections, has continued to use his Livestock Guards and Vigilante Group to harass and intimidate APC supporters across the state, particularly those who have refused to defect with him to the PDP.
Nigerians may wish to recall that in January 2018, soldiers of the 93 Battalion in the Takum Area of Taraba State had arrested nine members of the Benue State Civilian Joint Task Force which was later renamed Livestock Guards with AK-47 rifles.
The arrested members of the group are still in the custody of the security agencies. We, therefore, call on security agencies to check the activities of these groups as we gear up for the 2019 general elections.
Also, the governor is pressuring the police authorities in Abuja to post a notorious police officer, who had worked in Benue State Command, was indicted and transferred to Imo State Command, as his Chief Security Officer.
The whole idea is for the CSO to recruit and train “bad boys” against 2019. Many of the area boys, who had vanished when the governor was still in the APC, have resurfaced now that he has gone back to his own vomit, the PDP.”
Governor Ortom was also accused of wasting over N28bn bailout funds without paying civil servants in the state in addition to the various budget support initiatives of the federal government which was collected by Benue state.
Signatories to the statement include; Senator George Akume, Sen. Ameh Ebute, Maj. Gen. Lawrence Onoja (retd.), Maj. Gen. India Garba (retd.), Maj. Gen. H. O Adoga (retd.), Maj. Gen. Emmanuel S. Eihoda (retd.), Chief Steven Lawani, Senator Jack Tilley-Gyado, Sam Ode and Chief John Ochoga.
Reacting to the statement by his predecessor, Governor Ortom dismissed all the allegations by Akume and his group stating that he had intelligence reports that the former governor and others he refused to name, met in China recently where he alleged they planned to instigate mayhem in Benue state.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Mr. Tahav Agerzua, Ortom said;
“Several paragraphs of the press statements were laced with veiled threats to peace and breakdown of law and order in Benue State by Senator Akume and his collaborators.
We know from the antecedents of this group that it has no respect for due process and the rule of law. We also have intelligence reports that meetings were held recently in China where plans were perfected to make Benue State ungovernable.
We wish to assure the people of the state and Nigerians that all these plans will fail as the others before them. Power belongs ultimately to God. As a government, we are also prepared to tackle all threats to peace within the ambit of the law.
The operation to free our state from agents of oppression and impunity out to kill, destroy, dislodge and occupy is firmly underway. We are determined to liberate our people no matter what it is going to cost us.”