Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has accused Garba Shehu, a media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, and others around the presidency of not telling the president the truth about the worsening security situation around the country.
He said “as long as their meal ticket is secured, they tell Mr President to go to bed, that all is well with the country”.
The governors stated this on Thursday in a statement released on his behalf by his chief press secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, and made available to journalists.
He therefore called on the president to ramp up the fight against terrorism and banditry which had plagued the country for over a decade.
The governor claimed that the president does not want people to talk about the issue of insecurity in the nation, even as he also requested that the presidency inform Nigerians of the efforts being taken to stop the unprecedented bloodshed being committed by armed Fulani terrorists in the nation.
This was in response to a statement Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.
The statement read, “Each time I speak about the dreadful manner the Muhammadu Buhari administration has handled the security situation in the country, his media aides and hangers-on come out attacking my personality instead of addressing the issues I raised.”
“If the Presidency assumes that I am wrong about my statements regarding the failure of the present government to tackle insecurity, I urge them to hold a referendum to get the feelings of Nigerians towards their ineptitude, complicity and clear lack of commitment and sincerity in protecting the people.
“It is sad and unfortunate that the likes of Garba Shehu have zero sympathies for the families of those being killed daily by Fulani terrorists. As long as their meal ticket is secured, they tell Mr President to go to bed, that all is well with the country.”
He further said, “Garba is a man whose loyalty is for sale to the highest bidder. He sings in high praise of the President today because that is his current source of livelihood. He will be the first to go against the President once the tables turn. He has done that before with other prominent Nigerians whom he served. A man who betrays his former benefactor for a new pot of porridge does not possess the moral right to question me.
“Garba Shehu must be reminded that I speak the minds of most Nigerians on specific areas of incompetence or deliberate complicity by the Federal Government in the heinous crimes committed against citizens by armed Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists. Instead of taking me on those points, Shehu went chasing vain and mundane matters in a desperate attempt to malign me which he failed woefully.
“If I raised a false alarm, why have the Fulani terrorists who are veiled as herdsmen continued to kidnap and kill Nigerians unchallenged? How many of the terrorists and bandits have been apprehended and prosecuted? The Buhari administration cannot extricate itself from complicity regarding the evil visited on citizens of this country”, he stated.
On Wednesday, the Presidency had challenged Ortom to provide the sources of his information that President Buhari had instructed security forces to cease their offensive against herdsmen thought to be of Fulani origin.
Additionally, the governor was charged with aiming to foment dissension among Nigerians by spreading untruths “during a time of increased insecurity.”
“These ridiculous claims are patently untrue. If he is as brave as he claims to be, let him name names. Let him name the military personnel who told him this story or forever shut up,” the Presidency said in a statement titled ‘Ortom’s lies insult national security system.’
In an earlier interview with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, Ortom asserted that senior security officials had personally told him that the President had directed security forces to refrain from taking action against the Fulani herders responsible for recent bloodshed.
“I have spoken to some security men who told me the Federal Government gave them directive that they do not have to move against these Fulani men.
“That is why I keep saying that the Federal Government’s action and inaction clearly show that they are complicit in the criminality that is going on in Nigeria,” Ortom alleged.
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