Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue state, on Saturday, said the federal government ignored repeated warnings of planned attacks by herdsmen in the state.
Ortom stated this at a meeting with the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Security. He accused President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.); and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, of ignoring several warnings of the attacks in the state.
The governor told the lawmakers that upon getting information of the planned attacks, he immediately wrote a letter to Osinbajo, who was the Acting President, while Buhari was on medical vacation in London.
According to the governor, all attempts to get the vice-president’s attention through the letter failed as he got no reply from Osinbajo.
“We wrote to the vice-president on the planned attacks on parts of Benue by Fulani herdsmen, because the threat was everywhere on the streets, but he refused to reply.
“However, when Mr. President returned from the United Kingdom, I intimated him through a letter. The documents are here.
“I wrote to him on the planned attack by Fulani herdsmen because the threats were on the streets.
“On October 7, 2017, I wrote to the Inspector-General of Police; I told him of a planned attack on our people when there was no response (from the Presidency).
“On October 27, 2017, I reminded him that these people were planning to attack us, that we are law-abiding, we have disarmed our youths and we are looking unto security agencies, and that the way to do it was to arrest those people who were inciting the herdsmen to combat us, and we knew they were going to come," he said.
“I also wrote the Senate President (Bukola Saraki), and the Speaker (House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara) on October 7. I also wrote the National Security Adviser and the Director-General of the Department of State Services to intimate them on the planned attacks. When there was no action, I followed it up with a reminder on October 27, 2017.
"There was no response from any of them. In fact, the National Security Adviser invited us to a meeting two times but it was put off.
“This is very sad. I know those people who are responsible for the killings. I accused them and I have evidences against them.
“If I had bought guns and gave to my people, would they have been killed in the manner they were killed? I disarmed my people. I’ve not bought a single gun, I’m a Christian. If I bought, I would say so," he added.
Ortom also faulted the governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lalong, for claiming that he (Lalong) warned him (Ortom) against introducing the anti-grazing law in Benue.
He said, “How can he warn me? Am I the Governor of Plateau State or am I his member of staff? Do I work for him? I’m Governor of Benue State, and my responsibility is to do what my people want. That is what democracy is.”
Meanwhile, the federal government has appealed to the media and public commentators to exercise utmost restraint in their coverage of the fallouts of the recent farmers/herdsmen clash in Benue State.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, gave the advice in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday.
He said, “Government is working hard to address the situation with a view to preventing a recurrence, not just in Benue State but everywhere across the country.”