Benue state governor has fled to the US, says life in danger

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has called on the American government and the international community to hold the Mohammadu Buhari-led administration accountable for the spate of violence in Nigeria.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Affairs, Peters Ichull, yesterday in Makurdi, the governor made the call while interacting with officials of the State Department in Washington DC, USA.

According to the statement, the Governor cited the series of threats he had been receiving and the attempt made on his life in March last year as signals that the Presidency and its conspirators were after him.

He pointed out that to date, those who attacked him had not been prosecuted.

Ortom said he was at the State Department to present the traumatized Nigerian victims’ side of the story after discovering that wrong narratives were being circulated across the globe by the Nigerian government to shield itself from complicity.

The governor said the false narrative of “herder-farmer clashes” was deliberately crafted to delay farmers’ doomsday until they were gradually wiped out and their ancestral lands confiscated, saying “the truth is that farming populations in Nigeria are under siege and are being decimated; agriculture is gradually dying and food security is being threatened”.

He alerted the world not to take the insecurity in Nigeria as a distant problem, stressing that the outbreak of war in any country would cause migration problems to America and Britain due to their friendly immigration policies.

“In the last seven years, the Buhari administration has seen children rendered as orphans, farmers being displaced, schools, hospitals and social services disrupted, without doing anything to restore normalcy.

“The federal government’s punitive neglect has led to an increasing number of internally displaced persons in Benue State which now stands at 1.5 million”, Ortom revealed.

He, however, called on the USA and the rest of the international community to demand accountability from Buhari’s government for the deaths of innocent citizens. According to him, doing so would be the right step to ending the spate of violence in Nigeria, especially in Benue State.

The governor asked the US to encourage the establishment of state police, appoint a special envoy to Nigeria to deal with the flashpoint of the violence and ensure that international funding of IDPs gets to Benue State, the epicentre of the current violence as well as Plateau, Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara and other states affected by terrorists’ attacks in the country.

Responding, the US State Department officials headed by the Under Secretary, Africa and the Middle East, Padgett Douglas said, “the US government was aware of random terrorism, weaponization of religion and importation of violence in Nigeria.”

He noted that since the security of the political system was paramount to the US government, it had set up a conflict bureau to fund IDPs in Nigeria, promising that he would ensure that such funding did not go to the wrong channels.

He also assured to make a case for the Benue IDPs and investigate other issues raised by the governor.

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