—Says Government Has A Duty To Protect The Life And Property Of Citizens
The Nigerian Bar Association [NBA] Makurdi branch has urged the Federal Government to ‘ensure that security is improved in all facets of the country to assuage the fears of Nigerians and foreigners coming into the country, saying that ‘the Nigerian state must be made safe for all and sundry.’
The NBA made its position known via a press release condemning the assassination attempt on the life of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue. A press release is dated the 23rd of March, 2021.
According to the press release, the country and in particular Benue state has once again be made alive to the fear of losing its number one citizen to banditry, despite the retinue of security operatives he posses. An attack that a known group in northern Nigeria has claimed responsibility for.
Below read the full press statement
PRESS RELEASE BY THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, MAKURDI BRANCH CONDEMNING ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON HIS EXCELLENCY, DR SAMUEL ORTOM, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF BENUE STATE
DATED THIS 23RD MARCH, 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, it is with dismay and sadness that on the 20th of March 2021 the country and in specific, Benue State was confronted with the fear of losing her number one citizen, the Executive Governor of Benue State, His Excellency Dr Samuel Ortom.
From the press statement and video coverage made by the Governor, he had narrowly escaped unhurt from an assassination attempt having gone to his farm at Tyo-Mu along Makurdi – Gboko Road for an inspection. A threat which made him ran for almost 1.5 kilometers before his security whisked him away. This was in the midst of exchange of gunfire between the retinue of his security and the attackers.
It is worrisome the daring manner and gusto exhibited by the assailants who attacked the Governor with all the retinue of security at his disposal. The question one need to pause and ask is, ‘if the assailants can dare the retinue of security at the disposal of the Governor, what will happen to a common man on the street who is at the mercy of the command of state security apparatchiks, which in fact are lacking in most of our villages and even satellite towns.
It is to be noted that, soon after the Governor made his press statement, a group known as Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) came online on the 21st March, 2021 with a publication claiming to have carried out the attack on the Governor. This statement was signed on behalf of the group by one Umar Amir Shehu. FUNAM further claimed it ‘acted on behalf of millions of Fulani people in 15 Countries. It also stated that the assassination attempt on Governor Ortom was as a result of his opposition to the interest of the Fulani and vowed to kill the Governor sooner or later.
FUNAM further in its online release threatened to ‘get’ those who are working against the interest of the Fulani wherever they might be. In their words: “We shall hunt you down in your houses, in your work places, in your car, in your streets. It’s a matter of time”. This is to say the least barbaric and vicious calling for war in Nigeria. It must be emphasized that, the Nigerian state belongs to all of us and no one tribe, and or no person at all should assume to possess the monopoly of violence.
It is elementary knowledge that, the fulcrum upon which the Nigerian State revolves is pivoted on the Constitutional provision that, “the protection of lives and properties is the zenith and all important role of government and all other matters are ancillary to this fact. (Cf section 14(2) (c) of the (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended).
Today, there is total collapse and breakdown of security in our country Nigeria. We are in a country where banditry and kidnapping has taken the centre stage, where Boko-Haram spreads terror, marauding and blood tasty Fulani Herdsmen with AK47 wielding arms put communities asunder and take charge of their abode. The fear of Fulani Herdsmen is glaringly customized to Nigeria beginning from the South-South to the South-West region, South-East to the Middle-Belt region. The nefarious activities of this sect are entrenched as established crimes, yet they remain untouchable and are been treated with kith gloves by the establishment at the centre.
Today more than ever, Nigerians must be reminded that, there has never been a phase in the history of the country in which security has lost its soul as it is today, not even the era of Metasine in 1982. With Boko Haram in the North-East and recently parts of Nasarawa State, banditry and kidnapping in the North-West and North-Central, and the likes, it is indicative of a failure of leadership, depicting the country as a failed state.
Gentlemen of the press, the big question on the lips of all and sundry is where do we go from here. Today in Benue State we are grieving with fear because the entire state is no longer safe. On Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021, Chief Dr Terkula Suswam, the immediate elder brother of Senator Gabriel Suswam, Senator Representing Benue North-East Senatorial District was gruesomely murdered by unknown assailants. The perpetrators of the dreadful crime to the best of my knowledge are yet to be apprehended.
We are in a sorry state in this country and if Thomas Hobbes resurrects today, he will be bemused than amused at his theory of the sovereign state anchored on the leviathan, he will certainly seek an amendment. No one is safe, we are all potential targets. This is what Hobbes argued in the Leviathan when he said that, ’if society breaks down and you had to live in it, what is called the state of nature without laws or anyone with the power to back them up, you like everyone else would steal and murder when necessary’.
As a professional Association whose motto is “Promoting the Rule of Law”, the Nigerian Bar Association cannot in the circumstances of this brazen disregard to human life and the Rule of Law remain mute. We therefore condemn in the most-strong terms this attack on Governor Samuel Ortom and immediately call on the Federal Government that controls all the security architecture in this country to fish out the perpetrators of this act with a view to bringing them to justice.
There is in existence a general obligation to obey the law and all legal subjects have an obligation to obey the law in all instances to which the law is applied. Those aggrieved with governmental or individual actions or inactions must also employ lawful means of seeking redress instead of resorting to violence.
To His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, we call on him to remain resolute in his commitment to the defence of the Benue people. The attack on him should strengthen his zeal as the defender of the Benue Valley to further defend his people. It should be a teachable moment reminding him of how vulnerable his people are in the hands of the Fulani militias and other bandits terrorizing the common man.
Gentlemen, we have on our hands a situation that requires collective efforts and we must all work towards our security in unison with the security agents and the government of the day. We must be watchful and aid the security operatives with relevant information for the good of society.
As we came to press, we appreciate that the Government at the centre has issued a press statement condemning the attack on His Excellency and his Convoy. The President, Muhammadu Buhari has asked for an open and transparent investigation of the attack and that whoever is linked to it should be caught and made to face the law. We are further made to understand that security has been beefed around the Governor and a crack team of investigators from the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja are in the state to carry out a thorough investigation. May this statement be made factual, put into practice and the culprit be apprehended. It is hoped that, this will not be the normal routine of presidential statements without results.
We further urge on the Federal Government to ensure that security is improved in all facets of the country to assuage the fears of Nigerians and foreigners coming into the country. The Nigerian state must be made safe for all and sundry.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long live the Governor of Benue State
Long live Nigerian Bar Association
We pray for peace and harmony in the Benue valley.
Justin Gbagir, Esq.