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Ex-minister backs Ortom, says gov speaking truth on insecurity

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Unongo

• HURIWA faults FG’s handling of fight against terrorism, Fulani militia
A former Minister of Steel in the Second Republic, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, has defended Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, against criticism by the Presidency.

Unongo, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting, yesterday, at Government House, Makurdi, maintained that the message Ortom has consistently passed across to President Muhammadu Buhari and the entire country is that suspected Fulani herdsmen were killing Benue people like chickens and that the development was becoming unbearable.

He said “my son” is not fighting the President as alluded by the Presidency and some Nigerians in certain quarters; he is only demonstrating his constitutional role.

The former minister, who until recently was a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), expressed sadness over the killings. He revealed that he had been ready to raise 2 million fighters in 2018 when 73 Benue citizens killed by armed herders were given a mass burial in the state.

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He recalled the sacrifice people of Benue have made to keep the country together, especially during the civil war when many soldiers from the state were killed. He described the ongoing killings in the state and country as painful.

He promised to get across to the President with a view to presenting the situation to him, even as he urged the governor to dialogue with the Presidency.

MEANWHILE, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described the threat by President Muhammadu Buhari to deal with perpetrators of violence in Plateau State as unreliable.

It said for the past six years, following alleged attacks by Fulani militia in different parts of Nigeria, especially Southern Kaduna and Benue States, the President has sustained verbal threats without any successful prosecution of the assailants.

It asked the President to direct the Inspector General of Police to order the immediate arrest of the leader of a Fulani group that claimed it attempted to kill Ortom.

It carpeted the Nigeria Police Force and the Federal Government for refusing to arrest the Fulani leader, even after he had made the claim. It said this creates the impression that someone in the current administration wants the Benue State governor dead for speaking against injustice.

HURIWA also condemned criticism of the governor in the media by Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, saying he (Shehu) has displayed unambiguous allegiance and loyalty, not to the Federal Republic of Nigeria but to his Fulani ethnic nationality.

It said Minister of Special Duties and former Benue State Governor, George Akume, was wrong to have asked Ortom to apologise to Buhari. It said it was unimaginable that Akume would expect his state governor to apologise for demanding an end to coordinated attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen in Benue State.

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