The Benue State government has denied planning to hire a negotiator to mediate between the state government and armed Fulani militia.
The governor was reacting to a letter written by one Chief John Apochi, who claimed the governor was planning to invite Mrs. Aisha Alkali Walkil, otherwise known as Mama Boko Haram peace ambassador and chief negotiator, over herders/farmers clashes in the stat
Reacting, however, the governor called on the general public to ignore the report as there was no iota of truth in it.
Tahav Agerzua, Special Adviser, Media and ICT to the governor in a statement said the claim was false and mischievous.
He said, “The Governor has not received such a letter the contents of which are obvious mischief and diversion from a serious challenge confronting the people of the state. The claims made in the so-called letter are as baseless as they are outlandish.
“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 it is to protect lives and property 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.
“Mrs. Wakil visited the state recently in company of the national leadership of the Boys Scouts and Governor Ortom’s interaction with her did not go beyond that public occasion. Besides, the current security challenges in the state have been aggravated by sponsors of Fulani armed herdsmen militia who have openly vowed to resist the validly enacted Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.
“These sponsors who include the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the 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.
“The Governor and other leaders of the state have called for the arrest and prosecution of the leaders of these groups for the atrocities being committed in the state by the herdsmen militia. Criminal prosecution has also been initiated to effect the arrests.
“The position of several groups that Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku’s arrest and prosecution with members of the Livestock Guards for murder of two Catholic priests and worshippers is an attempt to change the true narrative and blame the victims instead of the aggressors suffices.
“Otherwise Alhaji Tershaku’s has been known to the security agencies who brought him to head the Civilian Joint Task Force in Nasarawa and Benue State in 2013.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari visited Benue State on March 12, 2018 he made a public presentation and stated his links with the current Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and National Security Adviser, Ali Mungonu.
“Attempts to demonize him are therefore part of a grand strategy to change the true narrative of the Benue crisis and also divert attention from the issues at stake just like the obviously sponsored reports of Governor Ortom’s plans to hire a mediator.
“The protection of lives and property of citizens rests squarely with the Federal Government which has coercive powers and control of security agencies and it has the support of Governor Ortom and the Benue State Government.”