Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom tells select journalists including JOHN CHARLES that those behind the New Year attacks are well known to the Federal Government and should be arrested…
Why are you insisting on the arrest of the leadership of Miyeitti Alla Kauta Hore?
I think the right thing to do is for the Federal Government to rise to its responsibility and arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore. They did not hide their feelings because they came out openly and threatened to frustrate the law. If the Federal Government does not do this, they are telling us that we are not part of Nigeria and it would be unfortunate because it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to provide us with security. The security apparatus of this country belongs to the Federal Government and they have the capacity.
These people are known, I have reported them to the President and currently, they have taken us to court. They issued several press statements and threats against us and their threats have become reality. They are living in Abuja with the Federal Government so why can’t the Federal Government do something?
They are throwing us into a state of anarchy, which is wrong. We have done everything to ensure that peace prevails here. I want to assure everyone living in Benue that we will continue to protect them, provide security for lives and property. Let us restrain our anger, although it is painful. I understand and feel the pains of Benue people. I feel the pains of Benue youths. I feel the pains of mothers. I feel the pains of fathers whose relatives have been murdered in cold blood but I want to assure them that justice will take its course. This law remains a law in Benue State and there is no going back on it. The perpetrators must be brought to book and I can assure you that Benue will be well.
Are you saying the killings were as a result of the anti-open grazing law your administration enacted recently?
Ranching is the global best practice and there is no alternative. I want to appeal to my people to remain calm. In a situation like this, you cannot think of reprisal or anger as a solution to the problem that has been caused. Let us continue to be law-abiding and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book. I have reported this to the President. I have reported this to the security agencies and they are working towards it. I have repeated my call that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore should be arrested. I had earlier given this notice to the security agencies and reported these people to the Presidency because they came out boldly and said they were going to resist the law and that they would do everything possible to sabotage what we are doing.
The youths that were protesting the killing of their brothers, mothers and fathers nearly mobbed you. Is this a rejection of your leadership?
On the incident this afternoon (Wednesday), you could feel the anger. You could see the anger of the youths, I also feel the pains. I’m also angry but the Bible says be angry but do not let the sun go down on your wrath. So, even when you are angry, you have to find a way of controlling it, otherwise you will mess up yourself. That is why I’m appealing to youths, for it is said that two wrongs cannot make a right. We can’t solve this problem by creating another wrong. Government is on top of the situation as of today. Yesterday, the security council met. It was as a result of the blockage that the security council decided to move to the scene and appeal to the youths to allow free movement but it became rowdy. Like I said, these are very sad days for Benue State. Corpses were brought to the mortuary. When we visited, more corpses were being brought in and even today more corpses were discovered. So, you can see the anger of the people and that is why government must act.
One thing that will give the people confidence is when the president and secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore are arrested and prosecuted because there is enough evidence of what they’ve done and I am accusing them directly. I expect that to be done and since I have reported to the President, I’m waiting to have a response from the security agencies because people should not operate with impunity. If we do that and everybody decides to take the law into his hands, then we are calling for anarchy and you don’t know the extent that can go.
Challenges are meant to be overcome and I believe that God will help us to definitely overcome this and I believe that tomorrow, those who are resisting this law will celebrate the law for there is no way of moving forward arising from the challenges that we have today in Nigeria on land. The land is no longer there and I will continue to say it. We are farmers and there is no way we can surrender our land again for grazing but all business people who are willing to go into cattle rearing business are free to obtain permits and do ranching in Benue State.