The Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has dismissed as shocking and disappointing claim that he promoted negative perception of Fulani herdsmen in the country.
The Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, had on Thursday condemned the handling of the herdsmen crisis by Ortom and the South-West governors.
The governor, who spoke at the closing ceremony of the 2021 Press Week of the state’s branch of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said the quit notice issued to herdsmen in Ondo and other states in the South-West was wrong.
Mohammed said: “On the herdsmen/farmers clashes, you have seen what our colleagues in 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 areas of Bauchi, has anyone asked them to go? We have not, because it is their constitutional right to be there.
However, in a statement issued on Friday by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, Ortom said it was a shame that a colleague who took the oath to protect and preserve the country’s Constitution took the lead in violating provisions of the same.
But Ortom said he would not want to join issues with his Bauchi counterpart who once defended the herdsmen for bearing arms.
The statement read: “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.
“I wonder which section of the law the Bauchi State governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
“In reference to Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people who are freely doing business in Bauchi and elsewhere, no doubt Benue indigenes in Bauchi have been law-abiding and do not carry arms to attack their hosts.
“Relatedly, Fulani, as well as many other Nigerians residing in Benue who respect laws of the land, also live peacefully with their hosts. My administration has not driven away any law-abiding Nigerian in Benue State.
“I find 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. There is the need for leaders to be cautious and retrace their steps which are capable of leading the country to anarchy.”
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