• How I escaped herders who ambushed my convoy to kill me, aides –Benue gov
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike were outraged on Saturday after the convoy of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, was attacked by suspected killer herdsmen.
Ortom, at a press conference, said the incident happened at Tyo Mu, along the Makurdi/Gboko Road, around noon when he was returning from his farm.
He said he was on his way to Makurdi, the Benue State capital, when about 15 gunmen ambushed and opened fire on his convoy but were repelled by his security men.
Ortom said he had previously gathered intelligence that Fulani herdsmen planned to capture him alive and kill him slowly.
He said, “You know today is Saturday and it’s normal as a farmer, I usually go to my farm, so I went to my farm along Gboko road. On our way back, we started hearing gunshots and we saw people dressed in black. From experience, we discovered that they were Fulani militias.
“A few days ago, the media were awash with a statement from MACBAN (Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria), who met in Yola, the same place they met in 2016 where they decided that they would take over Nigeria and that every other person is a slave. That was when they started infiltrating the entire country.”
Outraged at the attack on Ortom’s convoy, the Peoples Democratic Party on Saturday asked Nigerians to hold the All Progressives Congress-led regime responsible should any harm befall the Benue State governor.
The party gave the charge while condemning Saturday’s attack on the governor’s convoy by bandits whose identities are still being investigated.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘PDP Condemns Attempt On Gov Ortom’s Life…Demands Arrest, Prosecution of Assailants,’ signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja.
The statement read in part, “The PDP vehemently condemns Saturday’s reckless attack and the assassination attempt on Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State by suspected bandits, reported to be killer herdsmen.
“The party calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to put machinery in motion by ordering an immediate manhunt, arrest and prosecution of the assailants and beef up security around the governor.
“The PDP expresses shock that the assailants trailed Governor Ortom and opened fire on him and his aides along Makurdi/Gboko road, in an attack that by every indication is aimed to assassinate the governor.
“Our party is worried that this brazen attempt at Governor Ortom’s life is coming on the heels of his outspokenness in exposing those allegedly behind the incessant attacks of communities in the state and demanding that the Federal Government live up to its responsibility on the protection of life and property in the state.”
Similarly, Rivers State Governor, Wike, condemned the attack on Ortom’s convoy, saying Nigeria could plunge into another civil war if his Benue State counterpart was assassinated.
Wike also said the Buhari regime would be held responsible if Ortom was killed.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, Wike said, “If you kill Ortom, then be prepared to bury Nigeria. If anything happens to Governor Ortom, the Federal Government will be held responsible and they should be prepared that there will be no more Nigeria.”
The APC had yet to respond to the PDP’s comments as of press time.
How I ran 1.5km to escape from Fulani militias –Gov
Meanwhile, Ortom has narrated how he escaped Saturday’s attack, saying he ran a distance of 1.5km to escape being caught by the rampaging gunmen, giving credit to his security men for being able to quell the attack.
“I appreciate the security personnel attached to me. They were able to repel the attackers, so they could not have access to me. I thank God for my fitness to have run for more than one-and-a-half kilometres without stopping. It means that God has given me strength. I’m grateful to God,” he said.
Ortom, who said he had to call for reinforcement from security agents, expressed dismay that with the heavy security around him, he could no longer go to the farm in peace.
He wondered how his people would be able to go to their farms in the state.
He said, “Like I always say, my life is in the hands of God, not in any Fulani man’s or anyone else’s hands whatsoever. I still remain firm. I will fight for truth, equity and fairness till when God permits that I will not be here again.
“It is only God who can permit my exit from this earth, not any Fulani man. I want to say it boldly they will continue to fail just like they did today. I had an intelligence report before that these people said that they were going to kill my security aides and then capture me alive and give me a slow killing.
“They came out with a statement. I was alarmed. They singled me out as the only person who is creating problems for the entire Fulani race. I also heard that at their meeting, I was targeted for elimination. I got information that they would go after me wherever I go, whether at home, in my home, farm, anywhere,” he said.
Ortom said he did not have any issue with the Fulani herdsmen except those who had vowed to take over Nigeria as their ancestral home.
“We are not against the Fulani people who legitimately want to do their business here, including cattle rearing. But you must ranch. That is the law and we are in a democratic era,” he said.
Furthermore, Ortom said his lawyer was going to write a petition against the Miyetti Allah leadership “because they came out to target me and they are planning to eliminate me in my own land.”
He also called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), and security agencies to fish out his attackers.
No herdsman attacked gov, we don’t take him seriously –Miyetti Allah
Reacting to Ortom’s allegations, the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhassan Saleh, said the governor had driven all herdsmen in his state away, pondering how they could have attacked him.
In an interview with Sunday PUNCH, Saleh stressed that herdsmen had no hands in the attack on the governor’s convoy.
He said, “Herdsmen cannot attack him. There are even no herdsmen in Benue State because he has driven them away. He’s just behaving like a lout and it’s unfortunate that such a person could become a governor. He trivialises everything. The attack is political; they are killing themselves there. There are killers around him; everybody knows.
“We don’t take him seriously again. Where are the herdsmen in Benue State? Herdsmen have no hands in whatever killings that are happening in Benue State. He has been arresting herders at the Taraba-Benue border communities with his militiamen. They would arrest herders and cattle and impose taxes on them.”
Saleh alleged that the governor was the one breeding killers in the state.
“If nemesis would catch up with him for his atrocities against herders, it’s the killers that he is breeding, not herders, that will finish him. We don’t have any hands in his matter,” he said.
Miyetti Allah also said it had filed criminal charges against Ortom at the International Criminal Court.
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