Apparently overwhelmed by the outrage over his comments on recent killings in Benue State by suspected armed herdsmen, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has tendered an apology to Nigerians and his colleagues, saying his remarks were misconstrued.
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari last week, Lalong had faulted the decision by his colleague in Benue State, Mr Samuel Ortom, to implement the Anti-open Grazing Law without alternatives, saying he had advised Ortom against the enforcement of the law.
Lalong had said that it was not only the Fulani people who were involved in cattle rearing and further boasted that there was relative peace in his state because his administration was able to bring herders and farmers together.
His comment, seen by several Nigerians, including Ortom, as insensitive and untimely, had generated harsh criticisms.
Over 80 people had lost their lives to herdsmen attacks in Benue since the beginning of the year while another 56 persons were killed in neighbouring Taraba State which also enacted a similar law last year.
However, speaking with journalists in Abuja yesterday, Lalong said he was sorry for his remarks.
“I humbly apologise for my comment, and I say I am very sorry. I have seen that my comments have in the last few days generated a lot of responses on the social media. I apologise for that,” Lalong said.
“Responses to my comments are not necessary now; it does not matter now. I have great respect for the governor and the people of Benue State and I am for the unity of this country. I don’t want anybody to think we are fighting the Benue people; we are all brothers and sisters.
“As a matter of fact, Benue and Nasarawa states were created out of old Benue Plateau State. May the Almighty God grant the souls of the departed eternal peace and rest,” he added.
The Plateau governor also used the opportunity to call on Nigerians, especially the media to help find lasting solutions to the crisis.
“Let me use this opportunity to appeal to the people – those who are for or against, that at this time in our country, when lives are involved, there is urgent need for all of us to join hands to ensure we stop the crisis and restore peace, not only in Benue State but the entire Nigeria,” he said.