Benue State women under the aegis of Concerned Benue Mothers, on Wednesday, staged a peaceful protest around the streets of Makurdi, the state capital, in solidarity with the State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who has been at loggerheads with the Federal Government.
The peaceful protest, tagged “5,000 match in support of Governor Samuel Ortom”, was led by a former House of Representatives member, Rebecca Apedzan.
The women all dressed in black, carried leaves and placards with different inscriptions, and declared their unalloyed support to Ortom in his fight to stop the killing of the state residents by armed herdsmen.
Hannatu Ullam, who read a statement on behalf of the women, said the herdsmen have been killing their children, husbands, mothers and sacked the people from their ancenstral homes.
The women called on the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, to tender an apology to the people of the state for calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the state.
The statement reads in part: “We are all aware how our state Governor, Samuel Ortom has been consistent, raising alarm over the sustained killings of innocent Benue citizens by the Fulani herdsmen.
“These Fulani armed militia not only kill our children, husbands, mothers and sack them from their ancestral homes but also rape our daughters and mothers.
“Governor Ortom who has been in the forefront, seeking that the Federal government takes decisive action and end this grave insecurity challenge has rather come under attack by no other person but Senator George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.
“As mothers, we are shocked that Senator Akume and his group chose the ignominious path to close their eyes against the pains visited on the people of Benue state by Fulani killer herdsmen. They rather preferred to take sides with a President that has not shown any form of concern at the attacks and killings perpetrated by his kinsmen against the law abiding people of our dear state.
“It is too early in the day for any discerning Benue son or daughter to forget President Buhari’s counsel that we should learn to live with our (killer) neighbours.
“It is surprising that Senator Akume who has benefited so much from Benue State will turn around to seek to destroy it for his selfish reasons. This is someone who was elected Governor for eight years and Senator for twelve years. Now he wants to destroy the same democratic structures that brought him into prominence.
“It is sad that Akume and his cohorts seek to trample on the pride of Benue to sing praises of a president and an administration that has failed to secure the lives of Benue people. We make bold to say that Akume’s outing was shameful and smacks of subservience, just to satisfy his masters who have no regards for the lives of the people of our great state.
“We are therefore calling on Senator Akume to make haste to tender an unreserved apology to the peace-loving people of Benue and His Excellency, Governor Ortom in order to avoid the wrath of the gods of the land.
“As a former governor, he should be in the forefront speaking against the mindless shedding of blood by herdsmen and not seen to be promoting hate on our governor for speaking truth to power simply because of political differences.”
In reaction, Ortom said he remains unshaken in ensuring peace in the State.
Ortom said: “I remain committed to Benue people. Whatever you want me to do, I will do. Nobody will intimidate me. The prohibition of open grazing has come to stay. Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, you are free to operate here in Benue State as long as you operate in accordance with the law.
“There is no open grazing, RUGA, cattle colonies, no cattle routes, 180 settlement farms in Benue State.”
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