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Ortom denies alleged plan to hire negotiator for herders’ talks

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Governor of Benue State Samuel Ortom. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Governor Samuel Ortom has debunked reports making the rounds on the social media that he was planning to hire a negotiator to mediate between the Benue government and the armed herdsmen reported to have killed hundreds in the state.

In a statement yesterday in Makurdi by his Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, the governor said the reports attributed their source to a letter purportedly written by an indigene residing outside the state which was even yet to get to him.

According to Tahav, “ the content of the purported letter is obvious mischief and diversion from a serious challenge confronting the people of the state. The claims therein are baseless and outlandish.”

He continued: “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 whose duty is to protect lives and property as well as to end the crisis.

“The claim that the governor brought in Mrs. Aisha Wakil (alias Mama Boko Haram), to Benue State for purposes of mediation is also false and mischievous.”

Tahav explained that the woman in question only visited the state recently in company of the national leadership of the Boys Scout to have an audience with the governor which held in the open.

He went on: “Besides, the current security challenges in the state have been aggravated by sponsors of the armed Fulani militia who have openly vowed to resist the validly enacted (Benue) Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.

“These sponsors, who include the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and the Fulani Nationality Movement, have openly stated that their agenda is to annihilate the current occupants of the Benue Valley and take over their land.”

He said his boss and other leaders have called for the arrest and trial of the leaders of these groups for the atrocities in the state, adding that criminal prosecution had also been initiated by the current administration against them.

Also yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase, said God saw the invasion of the Benue Valley by the armed herdsmen and adequately prepared his principal for the challenge.

He made the assertion during a town hall meeting with youths and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at Yagba, North Bank area of Makurdi Local Council.

Akase noted that his principal’s emergence as governor from the MINDA area of the state was divine, adding that for his firm stance against the invasion, the state would have since been overrun by the marauding herders.


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