All Progressives Congress, APC, members of Benue State chapter yesterday, in Abuja deliberated on the security situation in the state and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately take steps to declare a state of emergency.
Those who converged on the Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre and Suites, venue of the meeting to deliberate on the state of affairs in Benue include former Senate President, Ameh Ebute; Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, who addressed the gathering; Gen. Garba, Prof. John Enyi, John Ochoga and Gen. Harrison Egaga.
Others include Sen. Barnabas Gemade; former Deputy Governor, Chief Stephen Lawani; daughter of former Senate President, David Mark, and federal lawmaker, Blessing Onuh; Usman Abubakar (Young Alhaji); Commandant General of Nigeria Peace Corps, Dickson Akoh; the state leadership of the APC and a host of other stakeholders.
They warned the state governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, against further verbal attacks on President Buhari, saying the governor was on his own.
Governor Samuel Ortom in a swift reaction, described as shocking the call by a former two-term governor of the state and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, who led others for a call on state of emergency to be declared in Benue.
Addressing the gathering, Sen. Akume faulted what he called the “messianic pretensions of Governor Ortom with regard to an alleged Islamization and Fulanization agenda” of the Buhari administration.
He said: “We, the stakeholders of Benue State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, are alarmed at the lonesome bitter and sustained campaign of calumny launched by Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, on the person and office of our President, Muhammadu Buhari.
“This unwarranted and ill-motivated attack has been going on for over one year now, and it seems President Buhari’s silence and incredible display of magnanimity to the governor and the people of Benue State have not been enough to pacify the governor.
“We recognise Ortom’s right as a free citizen of our country to air his views and promote them wherever he wants, but we also expect him as an elected governor to be conscious that his public statements are weighty enough to be construed as the general opinion of the people of Benue State.
“We cannot, however, stand by and watch this brazen show of shame by the governor through infantile and irresponsible public statements on Mr. President and the possible destruction of the cordial relationship Benue State as a federating unit, has always enjoyed with the centre.”
They equally invited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate the state, especially with respect to how the governor has continued to spend his security votes.
They said: “We call on Governor Samuel Ortom to tender an unreserved apology to President Muhammadu Buhari for using foul language and operating outside the set rules of engagement between the state and the federal government.
“We call on the EFCC and ICPC to thoroughly investigate the application of the total federal allocations to Benue State from May 29, 2015, to date.
“He has created a personal army of criminals called the Livestock Guards whose job is to hunt down political enemies and help him win elections. His earlier attempts to hobnob with other set of criminals led him to an ill-fated amnesty programme with bandits in Sankera area, which he claimed was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.
‘’The security situation in Benue State is so dire that a group of bandits were able to disarm and kill an officer and men of the Nigerian Army, who were on peace keeping mission. The proliferation of small arms in Benue State is alarming and deserves immediate action from the centre.
“The Federal Government should as a matter of urgency direct the disbandment of the Livestock Guards in Benue State for their involvements in nefarious and criminal activities leading to the breach of peace and massacre of innocent citizens of Benue State.’’
Reacting to the call for a state of emergency on Benue yesterday, Governor Samuel Ortom expressed shock, asking the EFCC and ICPC to start the probe called by Akume and others on his (Akume) government over N2 billion fraud during his administration in the state.
Governor Ortom in a statement signed his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said: “As expected, Senator Akume and his group avoided responding to the issues of insecurity in the country, which the governor has repeatedly and rightly accused the Presidency of complicity.
“The outing of George Akume and others in Abuja was nothing more than a massage on the ego of the Presidency to curry personal favours. As long as he and his group secure their meal tickets, Benue can go to hell. A media attack on Governor Ortom instantly attracts a package from the Villa.