- The Benue state government has fired back at those criticising the state governor, Samuel Ortom, on the way he handled the crisis in the state
- The government says the allegations against the governor were baseless and unsubstantiated
- The government also reiterated that it has not armed anyone or group in the state
The Benue state government has reacted to a statement attributed to a group called Middle Belt Conscience Guard, which criticised the state governor, Samuel Ortom, on how he handled the crisis in the state.
NAIJ.com gathered that the group's convener, Prince Raymond Enero, and his deputy, Dr Paul Itodo, at a press conference in Abuja said that Governor Ortom's petition President Muhammadu Buhari on the security situation in the state amounted to a blame game.
The Benue state government however insists that the action of the governor was appropriate and constitutional.
The government stated this in a statement sent to NAIJ.com on Friday, January 12, by the special adviser to Governor Ortom on media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua.
Part of the statement read: “When we read comments criticising 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.”
The statement noted that Governor Ortom raised the alarm of an impending attack six months ago, adding that if action had been taken to address the situation, the could have been averted or nipped in the bud.
The statement also described the accusation that Governor Ortom has supplied arms to members of the Civilian JTF and livestock as 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 publicly 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.
“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,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom has described the victims of the recent attack as fallen heroes of Benue state.
He also revealed that the state has lost 73 people to the attacks since the beginning of the new year.
“This figure does not include our security operatives who have also fallen at the hands of these enemies of peace.
“It does not even include those already buried in their communities. Some of these gallant patriots who survived gun and machete attacks are receiving medical attention,” he added.
Benue state holds memorial service for victims of suspected herdsmen attack- on NAIJ.com TV