Benue State governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom has again raised the alarm that Fulani herdsmen were planning to kidnap, torture and kill him along Makurdi-Lafia highway.
Ortom disclosed this on Friday at an interactive session for peace building between the church, traditional rulers and other stakeholders. Organized by the Makurdi Catholic Diocese, the event held at the Pastoral Center in the state capital.
The governor who spoke in Tiv language said he got an intelligence report that the Fulani herdsmen who are currently occupying part of Guma Local Government Area of the state were planning to attack him along Abuja-Lafia road.
He said the armed herdsmen, according to the intelligence report, would ensure that all his security aides were killed after which they would kidnap him, torture him before killing him, adding that already, he had reported the matter to the police and other security agencies.
“Therefore anytime I sleep and wake up and my spirit doesn’t allow me to travel by road, I would call flight operators, but just a few days ago, the federal government has issued a circular that no flight should land in Makurdi airport again.”
The governor who also alleged that some Benue indigenes were conniving with other forces in Abuja to kill him stressed the need for the federal government to urgently address the killings across Nigeria by herdsmen to pave way for peaceful election in 2019.
He disclosed that most of the polling units in the crisis-affected areas have been destroyed and taken over by Fulani herdsmen as their grazing fields.
“The killings across Nigeria is a deliberate attempt by some people, either Boko Haram, armed bandits or herdsmen, working for the same purpose to disenfranchise a large proportion of Nigerians from voting for the leaders of their choice.
“Amnesty International had come out to disclose that over 19,000 people have lost their lives in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states to herdsmen attacks and this does not speak well of the Nigerian nation especially as we are heading towards 2019.”
While lamenting that Benue indigenes have become destitutes and refugees in their fatherland, Ortom further disclosed that pockets of killings are still going on in Makurdi, Guma, Logo and Katsina-Ala local government areas of the state.
He explained further that most of the farmlands along the borderlines of Taraba and Nasarawa States have been taken over by herdsmen militia who currently occupy the areas to the detriment of the indigenes. “Even though, a goat doesn’t bite, but when you continue to provoke the goat, the goat will turn back and bite you”, he warned.
He attributed the success of his administration’s amnesty programme to the support given to him by the leadership of the Catholic Church in the state.
While calling on the international community to beam its searchlight on states affected by herdsmen crisis, the governor enjoined traditional rulers to go back and enlighten their subjects on the need to register with INEC and obtain their PVCs which is the only sure way to vote out leaders with questionable characters in next year’s general elections.
In a chat with newsmen, Catholic Bishop of Makurdi, Bishop Wilfred Anagbe disclosed that over 306 traditional rulers, youths, members of both Catholic Women Organization (CWO) and Catholic Men Organization and other stakeholders were invited for the meeting to educate them on a violence-free election ahead of 2019.
While noting that Nigeria had been ravaged by violent crisis in the last few years, Anagbe maintained that it was pertinent on the church to meet and discuss with the traditional rulers who are instruments of peace in their domains to enlighten their subjects that no politician should intimidate, coerce or induce them to vote against their conscience.
“Tiv land, Benue land and Nigeria as a whole have been traumatized by series of violent crisis in the past few years and now that elections are around the corner, people are taking advantage of this.
“We are trying to let them get into the picture of having to be instruments of peace in their locality because these are the people in the grassroots. We have had enough of bloodshed. Let us now do politics that is devoid of violence. If anyone comes to deceive them with whatever inducement, they must be able to resist it,” he said.