Suggestions by the governor of Benue State Samuel Ortom, that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ignored warnings that led to the recent killings in the state have been described by the presidency as “absolutely false and misleading”.
On the heels of attacks on Logo and Gum areas of the state that led to the gruesome murder of about 73 people, with many houses razed, the governor had said he informed a number of federal officials, and security agencies of the pending danger, but that they all ignored his letters.
Ortom made the allegations during a meeting in Benue State with the Senate ad-hoc Committee on Security Infrastructure, led by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
He narrated how several petitions he made to President Muhammadu Buhari, Osinbajo, were all ignored leading to the recent killings of his people by Fulani Herdsmen.
Others the governor also said ignored the complaints and warning he sounded against possible attacks by the herdsmen included the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, and Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and the Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS).
He had said, “We wrote to the Vice President on the planned attack on parts of Benue by Fulani herdsmen, because the word was everywhere on the street, but he refused to reply.
“And when there was no response, and when Mr. President came back, I personally went and intimated him, and also wrote. The documents are here”
He also claimed, “I intimated Mr. President and it was put into writing. On the same October 7, 2017, I wrote to the Inspector General of Police. I told him of a planned attack on our people when there was no response. October 27, 2017, I reminded him that these people are planning to attack us”.
But Osinbajo in a statement on Monday, by Laolu Akande, a Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President, Office of the Vice President said he was “shocked by a news report ostensibly quoting the Benue State Governor Sam Ortom as saying that the VP was warned of the savage and inhumane killings by alleged herdsmen in Logo and Guma local government areas which took place on the 1st of January 2018”.
According to the statement, “Although the Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo, does not believe that the Governor could ever have said so, it will be a terrible falsehood to suggest that the VP was ever informed by the Governor or anyone else of the imminence of the killing of citizens of our country in those or any other local governments in Benue State.
“Governor Ortom wrote to the Vice President, then Acting President, on 7th June 2017 protesting a newspaper publication where the leadership of Miyetti Allah was reported to have stated that it was opposed to the Open Grazing Prohibition law of the State and that they would mobilize to resist the law.
“The Miyetti Allah had written to the Vice President on the 5th of June 2017 on the same law protesting several sections of the law.
“The Governor went on to say that the leadership of Miyetti Allah should be arrested because they used words such as “wicked, obnoxious and repressive,” to describe the law, and because these were “utterances that are capable of undermining the peace…”
“The Vice President subsequently met with the Governor, discussed the matter and the security situation in the State and then ordered law enforcement agencies to be on the alert to prevent any attacks or violence. This was in June 2017!
“In the said letter written by the Governor, there was no mention of any threat to any specific one of the 23 local governments of Benue State, so the best the law enforcement agencies could do even then was to await information or intelligence of an imminent attack. None came. Since then the VP has held several meetings with the Benue State Governor, including a visit to the State on the 6th of September, last year at the behest of Mr. President during the tragic floods in the state last year. At all such meetings, the Vice President discussed the security situation of the State with the Governor.
“Following that, the then Acting President convened a major national security retreat which was attended by all State Governors, service chiefs and heads of security agencies. The Retreat featured very detailed discussions on the herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes.
“To the best of our knowledge, neither Governor Ortom nor the Federal Government was aware of the imminence of the cowardly attack on Logo and Guma on the 1st of January, and therefore any suggestion that the President or the Vice President ignored the State Governor’s warning is both absolutely false and certainly misleading”.
RipplesNigeria… without borders, without fears
Join the conversation
Support Ripples Nigeria, hold up solutions journalism
Balanced, fearless journalism driven by data comes at huge financial costs.
As a media platform, we hold leadership accountable and will not trade the right to press freedom and free speech for a piece of cake.
If you like what we do, and are ready to uphold solutions journalism, kindly donate to the Ripples Nigeria cause.
Your support would help to ensure that citizens and institutions continue to have free access to credible and reliable information for societal development.
SPECIAL REPORT: Lack of legal provisions, cultural sentiments fueling marital r*pe in Nigeria
By Arinze Chijioke In the early days of Sandra Izuckukwu’s marriage in 2019, her husband, Sunday Izuchukwu, did everything she...
INVESTIGATION… LIVES ON THE LINE (IV): Surviving in a dangerous media environment
This investigation is on the unresolved killing of three Nigerian journalists while on assignments between 2019 and 2020. For six...
INVESTIGATION… LIVES ON THE LINE (III): Precious Owolabi was killed covering a protest
This investigation is on the unresolved killing of three Nigerian journalists while on assignments between 2019-2020. For six months, Nigerian...
INVESTIGATION… LIVES ON THE LINE (II): Alex Ogbu was telling a story but became the story
This four-part series investigation is on the unresolved killing of three Nigerian journalists while on assignments between 2019 and 2020....
SPECIAL REPORT… TELECOMS BLACKOUT: Nigeria’s latest tactic against banditry grounds businesses, forcing residents beyond borders
The fight against notorious bandits raining terror and kidnapping students in Northwest Nigeria took a new dimension in September as...