Governor Samuel Ortom says attacks on farmers by herdsmen was a national challenge that required the cooperation of all Nigerians to surmount.
He spoke in Makurdi at the weekend when he received a delegation from the Arewa Consultative Forum led by the Chairman, Senator John Shagaya at the Benue Peoples House.
Governor Ortom prayed that other states might not experience a situation in where more than 73 people lost their lives to the herdsmen attacks at the beginning of the year alone.
According to him several states including Zamfara, Adamawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ogun, Abia, and Niger have suffered attacks which indicates that the problem transcended individual states.
He stated that the photograph he saw of President Muhammadu Buhari at his ranch in Daura recently had given Nigerians the direction that ranching was the way to go in animal husbandry, noting that as a disciplined person, the President knows what is good for the country.
Governor Ortom said he had forgiven all those whose actions and words had caused pains to people of the state including his Plateau State Counterpart, Simon Lalong, who is quoted to have made some uncomplimentary comments about the Benue killings.
He expressed appreciation to President for making frantic efforts to end the attacks including the relocation of the Inspector General of Police to the State and directing the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to provide relieve materials for distribution to affected communities.
The Governor reiterated his position that he had withdrawn from political activities to concentrate on finding a solution to the crisis and advised those politicising the issue to desist forthwith as it would rather aggravate the situation.
Earlier,the leader of the delegation, Senator Shagaya who said they were in the State to mourn with the government and the people over the killings, urged the Governor to continue with his constructive engagement with the federal government, his colleagues and security agencies to find a lasting solution to the challenge.
Senator Shagaya condemned the killings while commending Governor Ortom for maintaining calm, law and order despite the callous act, describing those that carried out the attacks as enemies of the State and agents of disunity.
When we read comments criticizing Governor Samuel Ortom’s handling of the recent killings in the state attributed to a group which calls itself Middle Belt Conscience Guard we found that they were baseless and unsubstantiated.
Indeed, part of the comments indicated that those who made them were ignorant of the nation’s constitutional provisions.
Contrary to the claims by the convener of the group, Prince Raymond Enero, and his Deputy, Dr Paul Itodo, at a press conference in Abuja that Governor Ortom’s petition to the President on the security situation in the state amounted to a blame game, the action was appropriate and constitutional.
All the security apparatus of the county report to the President who has the constitutional responsibility of ultimate control over them, as such it was necessary for Governor Ortom to report security challenges in the state to him for further and preventive action.
In the case of the current killings the Governor made the report six months before the attacks took place.
If action had been taken against the masterminds of the attacks what happened could have been averted or nipped in the bud.
The accusation that Governor Ortom has supplied arms to members of the Civilian JTF and Livestock based on the claims of some arrested people is ridiculous.
His antecedents indicate commitment to the reduction of crime through an amnesty program through which hundreds of illegal weapons and ammunition were seized and publically destroyed in accordance with United Nation’s specifications.
The Governor does not arm anyone as he collaborates with the conventional security agencies to fight crime.
Anyone who makes any claim to the contrary has the burden of proof.
For the information of the group major stakeholders in the state at different fora have expressed satisfaction with Governor Ortom’s proactive security initiatives including the prosecution of an amnesty program, collaboration with the relevant authorities and timely reports to security chiefs, purchase of vehicles, as well as the holding of joint security council meetings with neighboring states.
It is clear from their utterances that members of the group who seem to be have been recently formed to act the script of detractors are not familiar with events in the state even as they lack knowledge of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Governor Samuel Ortom has urged the people of the state to remain calm in the face of what he described as obvious provocation by Fulani herdsmen even as he called for the arrest of some of their leaders.
He made the appeals while addressing journalists at the old Banquet Hall of the Benue Peoples House, today, on the protest by youths who blocked some major roads in Makurdi, the state capital as a reaction to killings by herders in the State.
The Governor called for the arrest of the leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who threatened to invade the state last year as those responsible for the current killings in the state.
But he explained that actions carried out in anger against the killings were bound to complicate the situation adding that the people must avoid taking the law into their own hands as two wrongs cannot make a right.
Governor Ortom said he appreciated the pains which the people of the state were passing through especially families of the victims, saying that he has informed the President about the development and was awaiting a positive response.
He stated that he and members of the State Security Council visited some flashpoints in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas yesterday and thereafter directed the deployment of security operatives to the places.
The Governor reiterated that there was no going back on the implementation of the anti-open grazing law which he said was the permanent solution to the herders, farmers’ incessant clashes with attendant destruction of lives and property.
He called on the Federal Government to rise up to its responsibility to protect the lives and property of Benue indigenes in order to give them a sense of belonging.
The Governor insisted that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore must be arrested for making inciting statements concerning the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law and for carrying out their threats.
Governor Ortom also received 23 indigenes of the state who graduated as cardet inspectors from the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, Lagos.
He commended them for exhibiting high sense of discipline to achieve such a feat, and urged them to strive to add value to the Force and aim to get to the topmost position.
SPEECH BY GOVERNOR SAMUEL ORTOM AT THE VALEDICTORY COURT SESSION IN HONOUR OF HON. JUSTICE IORHEMEN HWANDE, CHIEF JUDGE OF BENUE STATE, AT THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE, MAKURDI ON FRIDAY, 15TH DECEMBER, 2017
It is with gratitude to God that I seize this opportunity and privilege to welcome you all to this special valedictory court session.
2. As you are all aware, this great occasion has been organized to celebrate the exit of a great, humble, God fearing and erudite jurist, Honorable Justice Iorhemen Hwande, after an outstanding career in the Benue State judiciary.
3. Mr. Justice Hwande rose through the ranks with an impeccable service record to become Chief Judge of Benue State, a position in which he served the state for 11 years.
4. As Chief Judge he sustained the reputation of the Benue State judiciary as one of best in the country through sacrificial, honest and exemplary leadership which impacted positively down the line.
5. On a personal note, I am happy to state that we share a common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and mutual respect for each other over the years. As Governor, this facilitated a cordial working relationship between the Executive and Judicial Arms of Government.
6. May I use this opportunity to appreciate him for his immense contributions to the development of the state through his strict adherence to the rule of law which also underscores one of the cardinal principles of our administration. We are also indebted to the entire judges and staff of the Benue State judiciary for braving all the odds to earn our respect and that of the entire country. May I reiterate our commitment to sustain our belief in the doctrine of the separation of powers and pledge not to interfere with the work of the judicial and legislative arms of government as we shall do all within our available resources to facilitate and enhance the work of the two.
7. As Mr. Justice Hwande retires from public service, I wish, on behalf of the people and Government of Benue State to congratulate him for leaving behind a worthy legacy of service in his chosen career where he stood out as an unbiased jurist.
8. It is on record that throughout his period as the Chief Judge of the State, he created a conducive environment for the Bench and the Bar to work harmoniously to serve the cause of justice. Under him, our people had faith in the Judiciary and we did not witness any major skirmish between key players in the temple of Justice.
9. It is to his credit that the Judiciary has grown from strength to strength with many Judges from the State gaining prominence and elevations to higher positions on the bench.
10. I am convinced that all the virtues of total commitment to service, hard work and service to humanity which he exhibited while in active service have impacted positively on the judiciary. We are convinced that he is leaving a Judicial system that will continue to improve itself for the good of the common man. Having given the best part of his life to serve God and the people through his career, Honorable Justice Iorhemen Hwande is retiring to a peaceful life. This is no mean achievement.
11. My lords, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the import of this valedictory court session is to give honour to whom honour is due. It is to encourage those coming behind him to emulate the footsteps of the gentlemen on whose behalf we are gathered here today. Above all, it is to remind those coming behind him that there is something greater than gold and silver – that is a good name.
12. It is worthy of note that while we are celebrating Justice Hwande today some of his colleagues in other States and at the Federal Judiciary are being tried for various allegations of financial impropriety. Others have already been dismissed from service and they have to live with all the pains and reality of their fate.
13. I pray God to continue to be with you, Justice Hwande, and may He continue to strengthen you and guide your every step in retirement.
14. Once again, I congratulate you on your retirement. To those you are leaving behind, I wish to pledge my commitment to continue to support and work in harmony with them without interfering in their activities.
15. Thank you all and may God continue to bless us and Benue State.
16. In God we Trust.