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Benue Governor In Fresh Crisis Over Anti-Open Grazing Law

The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, has raised alarm over the alleged fresh attempt on the life of Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom.

The Forum alleged that some unscrupulous elements were after the Governor’s life following his insistence to prosecute the anti-open grazing law in the state and his recent position on power rotation to the Southern part of the country.

National President of MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus, who raised the alarm in a statement he personally signed and obtained by Vanguard on Sunday in Abuja, called on Nigerians and the international community to hold President Muhammadu Buhari liable should any harm befalls the Governor.

Dr Bitrus revealed that some anti-democratic forces are alleged to be working underground to instigate crisis with the sole aim of having the Federal Government impose a state of emergency on Benue.

He said, ”We wish to draw the attention of Nigerians and the international community that what is presently happening now in Benue could turn out a dress rehearsal for yet another deadly round of violence.

”In the event of any destruction unleashed on Benue State or any harm visited on Governor Ortom, the Middle Belt shall hold President Buhari responsible.”

According to the statement, ”The attention of the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, has been drawn to the alleged threats on the life of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State by forces opposed to his persistent and clear stance against open grazing of cattle in Nigeria, especially in the Middle Belt region.

”More infuriating to those plotting against the Benue Governor is his insistence that the 2023 presidency must not be retained by the North; a position that was recently adopted by the Forum at its National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.

”Apart from standing as the clear symbol of what the Middle Belt stands for, the irrepressible Benue Governor has been in the vanguard of calling out criminal elements engaged in carrying out murderous assaults on our communities, which have led to the destruction of hundreds of our towns and villages.

”Some of our people are forced to seek sanctuary in various Internally Displaced Person, IDP, camps that are poorly catered for by some state governments and the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.

”Despite pressure and threat from those that are determined to continue with the culture of bloodbath and massive destruction by armed and brutal Fulani militia, Governor Ortom has remained unswerving to the defence of his people by insisting that the anti-open grazing law can never be reversed.

”It is in clear acknowledgement of the imperatives of the anti-open grazing as means to ending the bloodbath in Benue State and other states of the Middle Belt that the Southern Governors also outlawed open grazing to stop the rising spate of bloodshed and destruction associated with the activities of herdsmen.

”Considering the irreversible determination of Governor Ortom to stand with his people on power rotation to the South in 2023 and his unbending opposition to rescinding the anti-open grazing law, anti-democratic forces are alleged to be working underground to instigate crisis with the sole aim of having the Federal Government impose a state of emergency on Benue.

”As the umbrella organisation for ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt Region, the Forum condemns all forms of provocations in whatever disguise that can threaten the present fragile peace in the state.

”We call on trouble makers that are acting at the behest of forces opposed to security is not only Benue State but also the Middle Belt Region to quickly sheathe the sword. We also call on security agencies to intervene and arrest Fulani herdsmen that have taken over several parts of the Guma Local Government Area where Governor Ortom hails from.

”Security agents should pay close attention to the activities of these murdering herdsmen in order to stave off new waves of genocidal attacks and destruction of property in not only Benue but also the Middle Belt and the entire country. President Muhammadu Buhari should rise up to his responsibility of protecting vulnerable communities against these human butcheries.

”The anti-open grazing law that was properly passed by the Benue lawmakers should be respected by the Federal Government as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.

”We wish to draw the attention of Nigerians and the international community that what is presently happening now in Benue could turn out a dress rehearsal for yet another deadly round of violence. In the event of any destruction unleashed on Benue State or any harm visited on Governor Ortom, the Middle Belt shall hold President Buhari responsible.

”We wish to state in clear terms that Governor Ortom is not responsible for the present insecurity ripping across Benue State and the nation at large.

”The forces behind our security nightmares are these mindless and vicious herdsmen killers whose desire is to conquer our land and take over our communities.

”What our nation’s security forces should do now is to go after these bloodthirsty criminals that have turned our communities into a vast killing field. President Buhari should  stop the orchestrated massacre of our people in the phantom name of farmer/herder clashes.”

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