Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Ortom to Lalong: Stop interfering in Benue affairs

There seems to be no end in the face-off between the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his Plateau State counterpart, Mr. Simon Lalong, over issues bothering on implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 promulgated by the Ortom’s administration.

This is even as Ortom yesterday warned Lalong to stop interfering or meddling in the affairs of Benue State. Ortom, however, gave the warning at a stakeholders’ meeting with the National Economic Council (NEC), Technical Committee on
Herdsmen/Farmers’ Crisis Resolution, chaired by the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi. The governor, while ad-dressing stakeholders at the meeting recalled how at a meeting in which his Deputy, Benson Abounu represented him, Lalong said he had warned him against signing the anti-open grazing law. At yesterday meeting, Ortom, however, told Lalong’s representative: “Please tell your boss to stop interfering in the affairs of my state.

Let him mind his business in Plateau State, while I will mind my own business here in Benue State.” According to Ortom, Lalong told his deputy, Abounu at a recent function that he was under pressure to apologise to me over his earlier statement, insisting that he stood by his earlier statement. “I am the governor here in Benue how could he (Lalong) say that he warned me, who is he to warn me? He can only advise me,” he said.
The meeting, which commenced on Sunday night at the New Banquet Hall of the Government House, Makurdi, extended to the early hours of yesterday. Meanwhile, Lalong had in the wake of the attacks by Fulani herdsmen on Benue communities told newsmen that he had warned Governor Ortom against the law. Also speaking at the event, paramount ruler of the Tiv land, the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse raised serious concerns about the credibility of the committee since some of its members had taken position on the crisis. Ayatse said: “I have a concern here.
Since the governors of Plateau and Kaduna States – Simon Lalong and Mallam Nasir El-Rufai had made serious statements concerning the crisis, how do we get justice? “With pains, a delegation from Benue State visited President Muhammadu Buhari and the only consolation he could give us was to say, in the name of God, accommodate your fellow countrymen. Indeed, with this statement, how will my people get justice?” Other participants at the meeting include President General of Mdzough U Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege; Bernard Hon (SAN); state Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Akpen Leva and Chief Daniel Ayua Abomtse; as well as the Catholic Bishop, Makudi Diocese, Bishop Wilfred Anagbe; former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Mike Kaase Aondoaka (SAN); erstwhile Commissioner in the state, Mrs. Rebecca Apedzan bared their minds on the crisis in the state with the Fulani herdsmen.

 Apedzan, however, called on the federal government to create grazing reserves for Fulani pastoralists in the Sambisa Forest and stop disturbing state governors, particularly those who had been complaining over lack of land for that purpose.

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