Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has declared that he would never surrender his state to marauding Fulani herdsmen.
The governor made the declaration while faulting a statement credited to the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, saying the enactment of the anti-grazing law was responsible for the attacks perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen.
Speaking with Vanguard, Ortom claimed that the Minister’s claim was an indication that he was part of the alleged conspiracy against people of Benue State.
According to Ortom, “What we did was the popular wish of the people. The law was not smuggled. It was a product of the cry of the people and as a responsible government, we heard their cry and presented a bill before the State House of Assembly that went further to do public hearings across the state to get the input of everyone that was concerned because of the importance of the bill.
“Today, you talk about ranching in some states, grazing reserve in some states and tomorrow you talk about colony. I don’t understand, when globally what is being practised is ranching. I heard and I saw the Minister of Defence after their security meeting.
“While briefing the Press, he said it was the law prohibiting open grazing that brought the killings in Benue State. I saw that and I said to myself, it cannot be the Minister of Defence! Somebody who worked and retired from the army after attaining the rank of a General.
“This is someone who is a Minister, who is educated and has travelled far and wide round the globe. How could he say that?
“Honourable Minister of Defence, if you said that kind of a thing, where were you as the Minister of this country when herdsmen were carrying AK-47 and weapons higher than AK-47 and were going about killing my people and you want me to keep quiet? And I begin to wonder.
“The other day, the Federal Government came out with a pronouncement that it was ISIS, a terrorist group in West Africa that is attacking Benue people and on the other hand, I was told that the Minister said that we should accommodate foreigners.
“What a country? Foreigners come in without valid papers and they come to take over your land and you surrender it to them? Minister, I will not do that in Benue State, we will not surrender our land.”