The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has said Fulani killer herders should go to Bauchi State as there is no room for them in his state.
Ortom, while addressing journalists in Makurdi on Monday, however, noted that all Nigerians irrespective of their origin are welcome in Benue for legitimate businesses.
Replying to a recent statement by Bala Mohammed, his Bauchi State counterpart that herders can live in any part of the country, Ortom said the governor has to read the constitution to know its provisions for such.
“Bala Mohammed, my brother, that is not how to run government, bringing a lot of disunity; maybe he has not had time to see the castigation he received from Nigerians when he insisted that Fulani herdsmen must carry AK-47 and can live anywhere in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is not governed anyhow, it's not a Banana Republic, it is governed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The constitution gives power to governors in all the states to preside over the land of their states on behalf of their people, they are the only people who can give allocations and permit people to stay where they are and so bandits cannot find a forest and come in to hide under living in the forest (sic).”
Ortom explicitly stated that Fulani herders terrorising communities in the country should go to Bauchi as there is no room for them in Benue State.
“I want to tell those terrorist Fulani men not to come to Benue State, they should go to Bauchi and stay with him. Benue State is governed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Benue State also has laws guiding them. Once you're a Fulani man, you come with legitimate papers, you are free to stay here and do business, according to the laws of our land.
“Anyone who is not willing to respect the laws of our land should go and meet Bala Mohammed, there you can carry AK-47s and you will not be apprehended. Here, we will apprehend you. I want this to be known. For those who are of the opinion that I have been harassing the president, I think they are completely ignorant. Apart from being governor, I am a member of the National Economic Council presided over by the Vice President on behalf of the President.”
Ortom lamented the high number of internally displaced persons in the state who are in such conditions as a result of attacks by terrorist herders in the state.
“That takes me to the issue of herdsmen, terrorising us, leaving us with over 800, 000 IDPs, which is a pain to my heart because there's no way I can be a happy man leaving my people as IDPs, over 800, 000 of them. The fate of those little children would have been going to school, they are being denied and I'm not happy, I can't be a happy man,” he said.
According to him, Benue State is not against anyone of Fulani extraction but rather against herders who are terrorising people in the state.
He said the rule of law must be respected by everyone within the state, violation of which attracts arrest and prosecution.
“No sentiments about this, we are not against Fulanis in Benue state, we are against terrorist Fulani men in Benue State. Everybody, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Tiv, Jukun, everybody has equal rights to stay in Benue State as long as you respect the rule of law. But as long as you refuse to respect the rule of law in Benue State, we will make sure that the law will catch up with you. We'll make sure that the security men apprehend and prosecute you and if you're convicted, you'll go to jail or pay a fine as the law prescribes.
“We are not against anyone but we are against bandits, terrorists. You have seen how we fought against internal security here in Benue State, we disarmed bandits who were locals in the state. When Gana was a challenge here, we placed the sum of N50 million ransom on him for anyone who will give information that will lead to his arrest.
“We are actively supporting our security people to ensure that they apprehend all those internal bandits doing pockets of killings here and there and they are doing well, the soldiers, police, civil defence, Department of State Services are doing well but we believe in the rule of law, at all times. We have ensured that rules of engagement of security agencies and government are observed and the duty of government is to provide logistics and support to ensure they succeed in this assignment, I believe that in no distant time, everybody will sleep with their two eyes closed.
“When we decided from the security council to ban okada (commercial motorcyclists) in the Sankera axis of Benue State, it was greeted with a lot of emotions but today, relatively, I can tell you that several calls came in from Sankera axis to appreciate the government for banning okada in that place. Relatively, we have peace in that place.”
The governor insisted that no terrorist or criminal will be accommodated in the state, saying, “No kidnapper in Benue State will be spared; whoever you are, we'll go after you, apprehend and prosecute you. No criminal will be spared; I appreciate the various communities for intelligence gathering and support.
“The collaboration of government and security agencies have really paid off. The issue of Fulani herdsmen who are terrorists, we will not permit them and there is no room for them here in Benue State. If you want to do cattle business or any other business; if you are a Fulani man or any kind of person, you must ranch your cattle. Open grazing is banned and as long as this government exists, no room for open grazing here, except ranching and I'm happy that the entire country is embracing what ranching is, that is exactly what we need to do to help us.”