Ortom slams Bauchi gov over critical comment on treatment of herdsmen

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Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has faulted his Bauchi State counterpart, Senator Bala Mohammed for criticising his handling of the Fulani herdsmen-farmers clashes in Benue.

Ortom made his position known in a Friday statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase.

Speaking at an event organised by Bauchi journalists on Thursday, Mohammed blamed Ortom for instigating the alleged ill-treatment of herdsmen across the country.

He was reacting to quit notices issued to herdsmen in some parts of the South-West geopolitical zone.

“On the herders-farmers clashes, you have seen what our colleagues in the South-West are doing and some of them in South-East. Some of us told them with all modesty and humility – you are wrong.

“But the person that is most wrong is the Governor of Benue State, my brother and my colleague, Governor (Samuel) Ortom; he started all these. If you don’t accommodate other tribes we are also accommodating your people in Bauchi and other places.

“We have so many Tiv people working and farming in Alkaleri, farming in Tafawa Balewa, farming in Bogoro Local Government Area of Bauchi; has anyone asked them to go? We have not, because it is their constitutional rights to be there,” the Bauchi State Governor said.

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Reacting, Ortom described Mohammed’s statement as “disappointing”.

The statement read, “Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom describes as disappointing, the comments made by his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed who blamed him for what he termed ‘negative perception of Fulani herders’ when he spoke on the current security situation in the country.

“While Governor Ortom will not want to join issues with the Bauchi State Governor, he finds it shocking that a colleague who took the oath of office as he also did, to protect and preserve the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now takes the lead in violating provisions of the same Constitution by calling for lawlessness.
“He points out that the most shocking part of Governor Bala Mohammed’s statement was where he defended herdsmen for bearing arms saying “they have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them”.
“Governor Ortom wonders which section of the law the Bauchi State Governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
“He recalls that it was the same Governor Mohammed who once said on national television that a Fulani man is a global citizen and therefore does not need a visa to come to Nigeria, and that the forests belong to herdsmen.
“Governor Ortom wonders if his friend and colleague in Bauchi State knows a thing or two about the horrendous activities of herders in parts of the country to warrant the emotional defence and justification that he has repeatedly put forward in their favour.
“In reference to Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people who are freely doing business in Bauchi and elsewhere, Governor Ortom states that Benue indigenes in Bauchi have been law abiding and do not carry arms to attack their hosts, noting that Fulani as well as many other Nigerians residing in Benue who respect laws of the land also live peacefully with their hosts.
“Governor Ortom says his administration has not driven away any law abiding Nigerian in Benue State.
“The Governor finds it unfortunate that those who are trusted with the people’s mandate and should ordinarily uphold truth and justice, have chosen to mislead the country. He stresses the need for leaders to be cautious and retrace their steps which are capable of leading the country to anarchy.”

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