As Reps order probe of alleged assassination attempt on gov
By Egena Sunday Ode
Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom has appealed to politicians to work towards ensuring improved security in the country before talking about the 2023 elections.
He spoke Tuesday at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, though the elections may seem already very closed, converted efforts should be made to see see that the.security of the nation is not sacrificed on the alter of politics.
“I want to also appeal to Nigerians. 2023, yes, to a politician, is not far, but it’s still a long way. If we secure our country, and everything is working fine. Then we can talk about 2023. But the way things are going if we don’t secure the country, there is no way we can be talking about 2023. That is why I’ve always dismissed people who come to me to say that you’ll contest this, you’ll contest that,” he said.
Fielding questions from newsmen, Ortom, dismissed insinuations that he framed up the allegations of assassination attempt on him, saying that he had nothing to gain by doing so.
Recall that the governor had alleged that his convoy was attacked at the weekend by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen while on a visit to his farm.
Ortom had said the armed men, numbering about 15, trailed his convoy to the river bank where he was on foot with his security details and opened fire on them.
President Muhammadu Buhari, had on Sunday, ordered security agencies to carry out what he called an “open and transparent” investigation into the attack,” while also warning against politicizing the incident.
The alleged that his attackers who had earlier threatened to kill him had owned up to the weekend attack.
The visibly angry governor also said that those doubting the assassination attempt on him were just mocking him
His words: “I want to advise, like I said earlier, Mr. President did advise when he was condemning the attack on me, and pleaded with Nigerians that they should not politicise this matter. I want to appeal, I want to beg everyone that we should not politicise the issue of attempted assassination on myself.
“If a governor is attacked, then it is an attack on all. And I appreciate my colleagues the government’s irrespective of party affiliations, the chairman of our governance forum, the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, the Chairman of Southern Governors Forum, the Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, the Chairman of APC Governors Forum. All of them by way of call or text messages or press statements, they have communicated to me condemning this attack.
“That is how it should be. We should know when to play politics and we should know when to team up together to work as a team to salvage the country. That is what I’m saying. Those who are saying that, what benefits do I have to come up and say that I was attacked?
“My security agencies, not all of them are from Benue state. You have Fulani people there, you have Hausa, you have Yoruba , you have Ibos who are among my security personnel with me on that day. So, what benefits do I have to gain by stage-managing an attack on me.
“And so I leave those people, I see it as mockery. They are trying to mock me, but I pray that what happened to me should not happen to anybody else.
“Because the truth of the matter is that we know what is going on round our country. We know that there are AK47 everywhere from not east, south and west. And So people are there. But it is amazing, even when FULHAM came out and even took responsibility that they were responsible for the attempted murder on me and some people are there trying to doubt that. I find it difficult to explain that.
“When Miyetti Allah went to Yola and said that I am their problem, they had planned whatever thay wanted against me, because it was just last week they held a press conference and came out to say that I am their problem and that the law prohibiting open grazing should be repealed . How can I repeal it? It is beyond me.”
Governor Ortom also dismissed allegations that his attackers may be those who had accused him of land grabbing.
He said that insinuation was baseless because those who masterminded the attack had not hid their identity, adding that he had never had any issue of land grabbing.
“I have no issue of land grabbing anywhere in Benue state. when I went there, the entire community were with me, those who took me there,they took me there and they too have to run for their dear life. So I don’t know where that one is coming. But let me say this. When people came out and took responsibility for the attack, people are talking . All that stuff. It doesn’t matter at all. I have people who have threatened my life md I had reported them to security agencies. And I believe that the security agencies will apprehend them and prosecute. I have no land issue with anyone whatsoever,” he said.
The Benue governor pointed out that unless people and groups who are fomenting trouble are brought to book by the relevant security agencies, the country might be sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
He said: “And that is what I’m advising, that look, we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder in this country. Instead of creating, adding petrol to an existing fire, it is not good enough. It is not a good thing, to begin to plan against people who are legitimately doing the right thing.”
On his mission to Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Ortom explained that he was there to thank and commend President Buhari for his thoughtfulness in ordering a probe into the assassination attempt and to brief him on the security problems in Benue State.
The governor disclosed that those who took over from Gana, a militant that was recently killed by security forces, had been terrorizing the state.
He commended the president for the various steps his administration had taken to ensure a secured Nigeria, saying that whenever, Buhari did any positive thing, he should be commended by citizens.
“So, it’s not just enough to say that one criticizes the policies of the federal government or the President, but when he does a thing that is good it is our responsibility to team up with him to ensure that that is done. Because it is when we are peaceful, when we have security, that we can talk about even tomorrow.”