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NEF flays Ortom’s comments against herders

By Ernest Nzor (Abuja) and Bala Yahaya (Minna)
10 November 2022   |   4:07 am
Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has slammed Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, over his comments against herdsmen, while speaking on the killings in his state.

[FILES] Ortom. Photo/facebook/benuestategovernment

Niger gov wants bandits starved of funds, drugs

Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has slammed Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, over his comments against herdsmen, while speaking on the killings in his state.

The forum condemned the state of siege and insecurity under which Nigerians have lived in the last few years, adding that in the North, particularly, rogue Fulani elements stood out as killers, bandits and kidnappers.

In a statement by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, NEF urged Ortom to live up to his oath of office and commitment to be a responsible leader.

He said: “NEF, like other Nigerians, watched the video in which Governor Ortom spoke in a manner and language totally unbecoming of a leader, at a time standards of responsibility and decorum should be at their highest levels.

“Even while making allowances for the established patterns of rhetoric and practice of Ortom on inter-communal relations, this latest outburst should be condemned in the most emphatic manner.”

According to Baba-Ahmed, the comment does no justice to the condemnable killings in Benue or the standing of the governor, as the context of a politicised environment does not excuse the latest outing.

“On the contrary, it diverts attention from the latest tragedy that has befallen citizens and families in Benue,” he stated. NEF demands that killers of Benue villagers and other citizens in many parts of the North must be traced and prosecuted. “The villagers will continue to demand that those who are asking for our votes in 2023 will show in clear and specific terms how they plan to re-secure all Nigerians.”

MEANWHILE, Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has said that blocking access to finance, hard drugs and firearms to bandits and other criminals will curtail their heinous activities.

Bello made the suggestion when he appeared as guest at the first summit of the Forum of the Financial Intelligence Units of GIABA Member States (FFIU-GMS) held at the Aso Villa Banquet Hall, Abuja.

The governor decried the activities of criminal elements, noting that they were being supported through money laundering and terrorism financing.

“Niger, being one of the states at the forefront of banditry and other criminal activities, has seen it all,” Bello said. He explained that there had been movement of funds to purchase arms as well as related activities in money laundering.

“The easiest way to curtail these activities is by blocking the finances of these criminals,” he stressed, adding that the availability of drugs and funds was aiding the bandits and other criminals to be terrorising people.

“I believe you are aware that terrorism and banditry activities are related to money laundering. First of all, there is the need to track the movement of funds to stop the purchase of firearms and drugs. From my experience, one thing I noticed is that drugs play major role in the security challenges, because most of the insurgents are intoxicated with hard drugs,” the Governor stated.

He lauded the activities of the Forum, saying that cooperation among the member countries would ensure better intelligence sharing for a better-secured environment.

Other speakers at the event, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, called for strengthening of information sharing to prevent terrorism financing.

The Forum, which was created in 2013, has 15 West African countries from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region and two non-ECOWAS members, Sào Tomè and the Union of Comoros.