Ortom denies making hate speech against Buhari…

The Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom yesterday denied claims that he accused President Muhammadu Buhari of attempting to Islamise the country.

The governor said he does not indulge in hate speech against the President under whatever guise.

He also said throughout last year, the state was able to pay workers’ salaries.

Ortom made the clarifications in a statement by his Special Adviser (SA) on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, following alleged hate speech levelled against him by the Presidency.

The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Publicity, that Governor Ortom should desist from hate speeches against President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It is on record that Governor Ortom has never stated anywhere that President Buhari plans to Islamise the country.

“He prays daily for the President for God to grant him good health and wisdom and commends him for upgrading Exercise Ayem Akpatuma to Operation Whirl Stroke, which has been able to reduce herdsmen attacks in Benue State to the barest minimum.

“It could be recalled that Governor Ortom was one of those who organised prayers and fasting for the President when he had protracted health challenges in 2017.”

The governor said he had never blamed the President personally for the farmers-herders crises of 2018 in the state.

He said he had always reported the activities of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore to the Presidency and security agencies though no action was taken.

Ortom said the Presidency had never supported the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.

He said: “On January 13, 2018, the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM), met in Kano and issued a statement that what was happening in Benue State was a continuation of the 1804 Jihad when recalcitrant Benue indigenes stopped them in their quest to dip the Qur’an in the sea.

“They stated that they were currently equipped with weapons and political power to continue with the agenda.

“This was also reported to the Presidency and the security agencies but nothing was done. It must have been the guilty conscience arising from the failure to forestall these attacks and their enormous deadly consequences that may have prompted the Presidency to issue today’s mischievous statement.

“More so that in the aftermath of the attacks President Buhari did not offer any message of sympathy or condolence to the bereaved families and the people of the state.

“The best that came from him when major stakeholders from the state visited him in Abuja and after a long expected visit to the state was that Benue people should learn to live with and accommodate their neighbours.

“In all these, Governor Ortom does not hold the President responsible. The well-known cabal in his administration might be responsible for his ignorance of the real situation on ground.

Top notchers of his administration have blamed the Benue law for sparking the farmers’/herders’ crises in Benue State without explaining what is responsible for the crises in other states, including Zamfara, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Kogi, Ebonyi, Oyo, Ogun, and several others where there is no such law.

“Others say the blocking of grazing reserves and cattle routes is a justification for the conquest and occupation agenda.

“The Presidency at a time issued a statement that it was better to give up land and be alive than to hold on to it and die.

“Meanwhile, the Presidency may also not be aware of the Miyetti Allah and its supporters’ agenda in Benue State, which includes the perpetration of impunity with the connivance of the police and other security agencies.

“This explains the constant transfers of police commissioners in Benue State as a search for those who will dance to the whims and caprices of All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders in the state.

“The Presidency has never come out openly to express support for the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.”

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