Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has told his Plateau State counterpart, Simon Lalong, to stop interfering in Benue affairs and mind his ‘own business’.
Ortom sent his warning message through Governor Lalong’s representative at the stakeholders’ meeting with the National Economic Council Technical Committee on Herdsmen/Farmers’ Crises Resolution.
The stakeholders led by the Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi were in Bunue on fact finding on the attacks in the state, which have seen herdsmen kill over 100 persons since the beginning of the year, and how to resolve the crisis.
Ortom was reacting to information from his deputy, Benson Abounu, that Lalong had during a recent discussion told his deputy that he is still standing on his earlier warning that Benue State must not go ahead with the anti-open grazing law.
Recall that soon after herdsmen attacked Benue and killed no less than 73, Lalong had told newsmen in Abuja that he warned Ortom against the anti-open grazing law in Benue but that he failed to listen.
Ortom had therefore during the meeting, warned the representative of Lalong to tell the Plateau governor to stop meddling in issues concerning Benue.
Ortom said, “My deputy told me that he had a discussion with Lalong recently at a function, where he (Lalong) said that he had to apologise to me over his statement because of pressure on him, saying, he stands by his earlier statement.
“He also told the people that he introduced this woman (pointing at the woman on the high table) in this committee to me, whereas, this woman was introduced to me by Nasir el-Rufai, not him.
“Thank God he has a representative here; please tell him to stop interfering with the affairs of my state; let him mind his business in Plateau and I will mind my own business here.
“I am the governor here (Benue); how can he say that he warned me? Who is he to warn me? He can only advise me.”
The meeting held at the new banquet hall of the state government house on Sunday night but dragged into the early hours of Monday.
In attendance were some National Assembly members, religious leaders, traditional rulers and opinion molders.
The chairman of the Benue State Traditional Council, HRM Prof. James Ayatse, in his speech during the meeting doubted the credibility of the committee on the basis that some of its members had at one time or the other taken position on the Benue crisis.
He cited governors of Plateau and Kaduna State, Lalong and El-Rufai, respectively as some of the members of the committee who had made cynical statements concerning the crisis and wondered how justice will be achieved with such a committee.
He said, “While in pains, a Benue delegation visited President Buhari and the only consolation he could give us was to say, ‘In the name of God, accommodate your fellow countrymen.’ With this statement, how will my people get justice?”
He however urged the committee members to be neutral and discharge their responsibility with the fear of God.
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