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Open grazing: I spoke Nigerians’ mind, fix security and stop attacking me, Ortom tells Buhari

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BENUE State Governor Samuel Ortom has reacted to a verbal attack launched against him by the Nigerian presidency after opposing President Muhammadu Buhari’s plans to revive 368 grazing reserves in 25 states in the country.

Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Terver Akase on Thursday, said he spoke the minds of Nigerians regarding open grazing and other issues affecting the nation under the administration of Buhari.

Instead of attacking him, Ortom has asked the presidency to end the killings of innocent Nigerians.


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“The governor spoke the minds of most Nigerians on specific areas of failure of the Presidency and its complicity in the heinous crimes committed against citizens by armed Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists,” he said.

“Instead of taking the Governor on those points, Shehu went chasing vain and mundane matters in a desperate attempt to malign the Governor.

“We advise the Presidency to focus on ending the killing of innocent Nigerians, fix the economy as it promised and stop the stinking corruption under their watch.

“They can’t run away from their responsibility. They were brought to power to serve the country not to oppress the people and suppress their freedom of speech.”

He demanded an apology from the presidency for accusing him of stirring ethnic tensions and calling for genocide, saying the institution had never hidden its hatred for him.

The governor noted that he was not unaware of a plot by the presidency to cause a crisis in Benue and make the state ungovernable and declare a state of emergency.

“Whenever each of their plans fails as it happened with the impeachment attempt on the governor before the 2019 elections, they resort to cheap blackmail.”

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He said an accusation by the presidency that he made laws to chase Fulanis out of his “lacks substance and only goes to prove that they have not read the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state.”

“They can’t justify their narrative that Governor Ortom hates Fulanis when some of his appointees are Fulani.”

He called on the presidency to also focus on fulfilling its 2015 election’s promises to respect the rights and freedoms of Nigerians, which it had violated.

Ortom had, during the interview which aired on Tuesday, expressed his disappointment with President Buhari over his insistence to revive the grazing sites, which experts said died immediately after the country’s independence.

Ortom noted that Buhari’s decision to continue with the programme despite its rejection by all stakeholders, including the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), the Southern Governors Forum and Miyatti Allah, meant that Buhari had an agenda to ‘Fulanise’ Nigeria.

He said the president’s decision was unconstitutional and he should apologise to all Nigerians.

Reacting, the presidency said in a statement by Senior Presidential Spokesperson Garba Shehu, on Wednesday, that Ortom was not fit to hold a public office.

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Buhari accused him of withholding the rights and freedoms of the Fulani through the state’s ban on open grazing.

He accused him of using language reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide to cause the deaths of Nigerians.

Vincent Ufuoma is a reporter with The ICIR. He is a lover of God, truth, knowledge and justice.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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