Ortom accused of plans to import Boko Haram to Benue


Nigerian Concord Newspaper

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has been warned by Chief John Apochi, a respected elder and community leader in the state, against importing Boko Haram sect into the state.

In a four-paged open letter, Apochi expressed alarm over the alleged plan by the governor to invite Aisha Alkali Walkil aka Mama Boko Haram, over the herders/farmers clashes in the state.

Apochi strongly urged the governor to rescind the decision; pointing out that Ortom would be held responsible if he ignores wise counsel.

The letter read in full: “I am an indigene of Benue state, a Nigerian and a Benue Community leader in Lagos. I am compelled to scribble these few lines to you because I have foreseen danger in your recent steps in handling the herders/farmers crises plaguing our state.

“To be forewarned is to be forearmed; and I write this epistle to you in good faith, believing that you will carefully reflect on the issues raised herein.

“Security issues are very delicate and one wrong step could lead to a string of catastrophic consequences. The heightened herders/farmers crises in our state have gone to very complex and frightening dimensions as well as its mutated terrorism character.

“I am sure, you are shocked by the sheer magnitude it has assumed because of glaringly faulty steps and decisions you have taken and imposed on the state on the conflict.

“The deaths and destructions arising from the conflict have given every patriotic and responsible Nigerian leader cause for concern. People of the state are most disturbed and all hands must be on deck to fetch a solution to it, wherever it is hidden. The situation on our hands does not create space for pretenses, as it appears probable now from your handling of the matter.

“I am quite clear, as the Benue state governor and chief security officer of the state, you are not oblivious of the resonating voices of internal forces promoting acts of violence, killings and destructions, which are thoughtlessly blamed on Fulani herdsmen.

“The suspected involvement of a Boko Haram member and chairman of the Benue State Livestock Guards, Aliyu Tashaku, your kinsman and four others in the festering crises, suspects who have been arraigned in court further means claims of local criminal gangs escalating the crisis for personal monetary benefits cannot be entirely dismissed, while we await court verdict on those arrested and charged to court.

“It is therefore, very necessary and germane for you to take measured steps, evolve very honest remedies which are tested and trusted to end the conflagration between herders/farmers in our state. To posture, as if you delight in the killings, destructions and escalation of the crises is getting some of us nervous, as it questions your sincerity of purpose.

“Your Excellency, I was shocked and saddened to read on online media, your fresh attempts to embalm the herders/farmer clashes with the coat of Boko Haram terrorism, with the purported hiring of a very suspicious and questionable character, Mrs Aisha Alkali Wakil to play mediatory roles between herders/ farmers.

“She disclosed this arrangement in an interview she granted reporters at the ceremony of your investiture as Patron and Matron on your wife, Mrs Eunice Ortom by Scout Association of Nigeria, Benue State Council in Makurdi recently.

“Mr Governor, the comments credited to you indicated you are in total agreement with this arrangement, as you reportedly assured the “Peace Ambassador” (Mrs Wakil ) of “state government’s necessary support and cooperation to succeed in the negotiation.

“I cannot understand your excitement over the overtly flawed arrangement. Could it be that Mrs Wakil’s bogus title of “Peace Ambassador and Chief Negotiator” in the fight Boko Haram terrorists have unleashed on Nigeria, is the passionate attraction to a woman widely known as Mama Boko Haram?

“Did you care to find out her background and the level of her commitment to Boko Haram terrorists beyond what she flaunts in public domain? What have these findings revealed? What has erased the possibility that Mrs Wakil could be a masked agent and spy of Boko Haram terrorists, you have accepted with open arms in the state? How did she become your guest in the state? The questions are in dozens, begging for answers.

“What have you gathered as the success or track records of this “Peace Ambassador and Chief Negotiator” in her performance for the several times she claimed to engage Boko Haram leaders on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria, and was allegedly paid sumptuous sums under former President Goodluck Jonathan? You should know better because you were a minister under the Jonathan presidency.

“Mr Governor sir, we are all living witnesses in Nigeria that the negotiation roles Mrs Wakil spearheaded with leaders of Boko Haram terrorism failed woefully, outside the enrichment of the so-called negotiators. And Boko Haram insurgency rather waxed stronger and stronger against the Nigerian people until President Muhammadu Buhari took decisive actions when he assumed the reins of leadership in 2015.

“Mr Governor, before someone playing such sensitive and critical roles is contracted, it is based on his or her proven records and credentials of competence and positive results in previous assignments. But I am particularly confused and downcast that the character in focus has no such records of performance anywhere. Where can you point otherwise or to the contrary?

“And by my judgment, she passes as one of the many spin doctors we have in this country; feeding fat by exploiting crisis situations for pecuniary benefits.

“Mr Governor sir, a simple check on google would reveal to you that this Peace Ambassador you intend to falsely venerate was declared wanted sometimes in 2016 by the Nigerian Army. She and her two other accomplices have remained subjects of controversies within the intelligence circles; and it will do us some good to find out from the right quarters if we are safe, or have brought home another Tashaku upon ourselves.

“Therefore, I am compelled to remind you of some indisputable and deafening facts concerning the personage of Mrs Wakil. May you have it at the back of your mind that President Buhari never contemplated hiring her for any negotiation with Boko Haram, even though the president was keen to end terrorism, and ready to explore every available option at his disposal. But he ignored Mrs Wakil and the likes. It means he did not trust her.

“The Borno state Government did not also engage the services of Mama Boko Haram to assist it battle Boko Haram terrorism. Basically, we learn and take informed decisions from experiences. This should also compel you to hold her in high suspicion, as against the present embrace.

“Secondly Mama Boko Haram did not end Boko Haram terrorism; but the sustained efforts and determination of the Nigerian military extinguished the fire of terrorism on Nigerians. It is therefore absurd and absolutely irrational for you to think Mrs Wakil’s mediatory roles can end herders/farmers crises in your state, which have clearly assumed terrorism traits.

“Mr Governor sir, I want to believe you are so shamefully and pathetically confused about the conflagration you have plunged our state into, with the herders/farmers crises. Hiring Mrs Wakil as negotiator is yet another subtle exposure of your mindset as supporting and importing terrorism into Benue state.

“Teshaku has escaped from your hands, with his arrest and arraignment in court by security agents and now, you want to implant his successor, Mama Boko Haram (Mrs Wakil) in the guise of negotiation over herders/farmers crises? “Can you explain to Benue people what has convinced you that Mama Boko Haram is not a member of the Boko Haram sect and may be in the state on espionage mission? And you thoughtlessly embraced her. What we may hear next is the escalation of killings or conflict.

“Mr Governor sir, please do our people the favour of rescinding that decision. It is fraught with everything evil and we shall hold you strictly responsible should you ignore wise counsel to migrate Mrs Wakil into our state to spy for Boko Haram terrorists. If dialogue is necessary in conflict situations as you emphasized, to what extent have you dialogued with leaders of Fulani herdsmen on this issue? Enough of these pretenses.

“I appreciate your audience and may Almighty God open your blindfolded eyes to the light of truth, justice, fairness; and also imbue you with a conscience that is alive to act properly.”