Benue killings: You lied, Osinbajo tells Ortom

Vice-President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, denied receiving any letter from Benue State governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, warning him of attacks planned by herdsmen.

In a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, Osinbajo expressed shock over the governor’s claims, which he described as a “terrible falsehood.”

Ortom had said he alerted President Muhammadu Buhari, Osinbajo, Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, of the planned attacks by herdsmen but that they allegedly ignored it.

Reacting to the allegation, Osinbajo said neither him nor the other parties the governor claimed to have alerted got any letters on the situation.

Akande explained that Ortom wrote the vice president a letter dated June 7, 2017, protesting the opposition and resistance of Miyetti Allah to the anti-grazing law, adding that he had also received a letter from the leadership of Miyetti Allah on their reservations about the law.

He said: “It will be a terrible falsehood to suggest that the VP was ever informed by the governor or anyone else of the imminence of the killing of citizens of our country in those or any other local governments in Benue State.

“Governor Ortom wrote to the Vice President, then Acting President, on June 7, 2017, protesting a newspaper publication where the leadership of Miyetti Allah was reported to have stated that it was opposed to the Open Grazing Prohibition law of the state and that they would mobilize to resist the law.

“Miyetti Allah had written to the Vice President on June 5, 2017, on the same law protesting several sections of the law.

“The governor went on to say that the leadership of Miyetti Allah should be arrested because they used words such as “wicked, obnoxious and repressive,” to describe the law, and because these were utterances that were capable of undermining the peace…”

He said upon receiving the letter, Osinbajo met with Ortom to discuss the security issues in the state, and ordered security agencies to be on the alert.

He said, however, that there was no mention of any threats of attacks from the herdsmen in the letter written to him by Ortom.

“The Vice President subsequently met with the governor, discussed the matter and the security situation in the State and then ordered law enforcement agencies to be on the alert to prevent any attacks or violence. This was in June 2017!

“In the said letter written by the governor, there was no mention of any threat to any  of the 23 local governments of Benue State, so the best the law enforcement agencies could do even then was to await information or intelligence of an imminent attack. None came.

“Since then the VP has held several meetings with the Benue State governor, including a visit to the state on September 6, last year, at the behest of the President, during the tragic floods in the state last year.

“At all such meetings, the vice-president discussed the security situation of the state with the governor.

“Following that, then acting president (Osinbajo) convened a major national security retreat which was attended by all state governors, service chiefs and heads of security agencies. The retreat featured very detailed discussions on the herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes.

“To the best of our knowledge, neither Governor Ortom nor the Federal Government was aware of the imminence of the cowardly attack on Logo and Guma on January 1, and, therefore, any suggestion that the President or the vice-president ignored the state governor’s warning is both absolutely false and certainly misleading,’’ he said.

Vanguard

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