Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, refuted media reports that he was into talks with a negotiator with the view to hiring same to negotiate with Fulani militia group.
Ortom said that he did not also receive any letter from any Benue indigene outside the state to that effect and described the reports as false.
Through his Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Chief Tahav Agerzua, the governor said that there was no basis whatsoever to hire any negotiator or mediator to tackle the current security challenges in the state.
Ortom said that he was already providing support to the security agencies whose duty is to protect life and property to end the crisis.
He said: ”We read reports on several media platforms that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, plans to hire a negotiator to mediate between the state government and armed Fulani militiamen.
”Some of the reports attributed their source to a purported letter written to the governor by an indigene who resides outside the state.
”The governor has not received such a letter the content of which is obvious mischief and diversion from a serious challenge confronting the people of the state.
”The claims made in the so-called letter are as baseless as they are outlandish. There is no basis whatsoever for Governor Samuel Ortom to hire any negotiator or mediator to tackle the current security challenges in the state as he was already providing support to the conventional federal security agencies which duty it is to protect life and property to end the crisis,” he said.
The governor also denied the claim that he brought in Mrs. Aisha Wakil, alias Mama Boko Haram, to the state for purposes of mediation.
Ortom explained that Mrs. Wakil visited the state recently in company of the national leadership of the Boys Scouts and that his interaction with her did not go beyond that public occasion.
He said the current security challenges in the state had been aggravated by sponsors of Fulani armed herdsmen who have vowed to resist the validly enacted Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.
These sponsors, he said included the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and the Fulani Nationality Movement, who he noted openly declared that their agenda is to “annihilate the current occupants of the Benue Valley and take over their land.”
Ortom added that, ”I and other leaders of the state have called for the arrest and prosecution of the leaders of these groups for the atrocities being committed in the state by the militia herdsmen.
”Criminal prosecution has also been initiated to effect the arrests.
”The position of several groups that Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku’s arrest and prosecution with members of the Livestock Guards for murder of two Catholic priests and worshippers is an attempt to change the true narrative and blame the victims instead of the aggressors suffices.
”Otherwise Alhaji Tershaku’s has been known to the security agencies who brought him to head the Civilian Joint Task Force in Nasarawa and Benue States in 2013,” he said.