The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has claimed that an unnamed organisation is planning to kill him.
In a statement on Thursday, Ortom claimed that several individuals, including former Kano Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi, had accused him of planning a genocide against Fulani pastoralists.
The governor said that he had been accused of being behind the recent airstrike that killed some herders in Kwateri, a neighborhood that is on the boundary of the states of Benue and Nasarawa.
Ortom said, “My attention was drawn to a write-up signed by 52 personalities of Fulani extraction led by the deposed Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi in form of a letter to Mr President in which the group leveled all manner of accusations against me in a desperate attempt to set me up for hatred, vilification, and attacks.
“The group which refused to give itself a name accused me of being responsible for the recent killing of some pastoralists at Akwanaja, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State via a bomb attack. They tried to link the Benue State Livestock Guards with the killings, claiming that the pastoralists were bombed on their way from Benue to Nasarawa after they had retrieved their cattle.
“The group maliciously accused me of carrying out genocide against pastoralists. The dethroned Emir Sanusi did not stop at that. He made a video in Hausa in which he maligned me and called on all Fulanis to consider me as their enemy while urging those in Benue State to vote against me during the coming elections.
“I consider these allegations and blackmail targeted at my person and the Government of Benue State as part of a grand conspiracy by enemies of the state to eliminate me. Since 2017 when we enacted the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, I have escaped seven assassination attempts.
“Our Livestock Guards operate within the boundaries of Benue State and are not permitted by law to bear arms. Their function is to help conventional security agencies in enforcing the law which protects both the farmer and the herder.
“The Guards have become targets of attacks by armed herdsmen with many of them killed in cold blood. Benue State Livestock Guards do not rustle cattle. They legitimately impound cattle which are seen violating the law and take them to the quarantine unit for the period stipulated by the law.”
Speaking on the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law signed in 2017, Ortom said the legislation was meant to promote peace between headers and farmers in the state.
He maintained that the law had come to stay, adding his government would not be distracted by calculated hate and campaigns.
He said, “Let me tell the dethroned Emir of Kano Lamido Sanusi and his conspirators that I cannot be intimidated by any of them. I hold the mandate of Benue people and my allegiance is to my people in respect of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which gives states as federating units, the power to enact laws for the good governance of their people. I have nothing personal against the Fulani.
“I must state categorically that the Benue State Government under my leadership has no hand in the Akwanaja incident. Linking me with the bomb attack in Doma, Nasarawa State is the most unfair thing anyone would do to me.
“The individuals and groups pushing for the repeal of the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law ought to know that they are wasting their time. The law has come to stay. Anyone who wants to rear animals in Benue State should be prepared to do so in ranches and according to provisions of the law. We will not be distracted by the avalanche of smear and hate campaigns against us. I have the mandate of my people and I will protect their interests till the day I leave office as Governor.”