Benue govt says Fulani attacks different from Gana’s atrocities, accuses Akume of sabotage

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Nigerian Concord Newspaper

THE Benue state government has said that Fulani attacks in the state are quite different from the atrocities that are being carried out by Terwase Akwaza popularly known as Gana.

Governor Samuel Ortom’s Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Mr. Tahav Agerzua, who said this in a press release this morning also added that a former governor of the state, Senator George Akume, is the arrowhead of the internal sabotage network working against the interests of the people.

According to Agerzua, the attacks by Fulani herdmen are clearly separate from the criminal activities of the notorious gangster, Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana.

He added that while fulani attacks are more widespread affecting 18 local government areas at one time, the ones by Gana are more concentrated in the Sankera axis which comprises Katsina-Ala, Ukum and Logo local government area.

Agerzua also mentioned the efforts of Governor Samuel Ortom to deal with the twin security challenges which Benue people are suffering for in the hands of Fulani herdsmen and Terwase Akwaza, Gana.

He added that it would be a sheer mischief to blame the twin security challenges on Gana alone especially in cases where the leaders of the Herders Association had claimed responsibilities for majority of the attacks.

His words: Close watchers of events in Benue State can testify about the concerted efforts of the Ortom administration to overcome these twin security challenges. For someone to state that one represents the entirety is sheer mischief”

Faulting a press statement issued yesterday by the Benue state chapter of the APC to change the narrative, the Adviser said that the people of the state are aware of those behind the attacks.

He stressed that nothing can exonerate Senator Akume, whom he accused of sponsoring the press statement, from Benue peoples’ blood guilt.

In his statement, Agerzua alleged that the APC used Governor Ortom’s visit to the Presidential Villa on Monday to attempt to rewrite history but failed woefully.

The statement reads in parts: “Contrary to his claim in the statement riddled with falsehood, Senator George Akume did not decline comments on the killings in Benue State when State House correspondents confronted him at the Presidential Villa after he led a delegation which met with President Muhammadu Buhari. That meeting took place on 23rd November, 2018.

“Senator George Akume was seen and heard on television and read in the media saying “When you talk about herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, it is a story going good -bye. Have you heard of farmers, herders clashes in Benue again ? No. We know those who were behind that; government was behind that. I’m talking about the state government through the livestock guards.They knew what was going on. So it is now a thing of the past.”

“The former Governor completely exonerated Fulani herdsmen of complicity in the Benue killings of previous years and particularly those in 2018 despite Miyetti Allah accepting responsibility for the killings, saying it was reprisal for the rustling of their 1000 cows. Other Fulani groups also stated clearly that they were responsible for the attacks which was part of their efforts to reclaim the Benue Valley.

“Before making the unfortunate comments in Abuja quoted above, Senator Akume, in one of his festival of insults at his residence at Judges Quarters in Makurdi, also made similar comments. This happened shortly after the Governor left the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. He stated in a widely circulated video that the Fulanis have not killed anyone in Benue State. That it was Governor Ortom carrying out the attacks through his relation, Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku.

“His small band of supporters shared the video, in which they celebrated the comments on social media platforms. The Senator did not only exonerate the Fulani herdsmen from the killings, but also rained insults on Governor Ortom. This became his characteristic trademark everywhere he had the opportunity to speak. He repeated the remarks at the Presidential Campaign Rally in Makurdi.

“Benue people were dismayed and astonished as they contemplated what had come over the Senator to the extent of his currying favour at the expense of the innocent blood of his people.

“The sad reality was that reputable media houses including Al Jazeera and TV Continental aired reports which clearly indicated, from interactions with survivors and victims that the attackers were Fulani herdsmen. The police also arrested some of the herdsmen in Tunga, Nasarawa State and paraded them as the killers of four policemen and some farmers in Benue State. Moreover, the attacks started several years before Governor Ortom took office.

“The nationwide outrage that followed Senator Akume’s irresponsible pronouncements accusing the Benue State Government of sponsoring the genocide in Benue State confirmed the view that he is the arrowhead of the internal sabotage network working against the interests of the people.

“A few days earlier, Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, made a similar baseless and reckless claim on Channels Television even as the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole sang the same song few months earlier. Those outings by APC leaders and top Federal Government appointees became a clear case of blaming the victim.

“From the foregoing, it is now apparent that the changing narrative on the Benue massacre as well as conquest and occupation agenda is the fabrication of Senator Akume who is also its chief marketer and promoter.

“The people regarded his unfortunate comments as painful horror and abomination and resolved to sanction him with political retirement which they did in the last general election.

“Still smarting from the humiliating defeat at the polls, Senator Akume has commissioned the subservient Acting Publicity Secretary who he unilaterally installed, to embark on the fruitless exercise of rewriting history”

The statement also reads: “The claim by APC that Governor Ortom blamed Ukum youths as killers of Jukuns in Wukari, Taraba State is clear manifestation that the APC wishes to see the Governor join them in blaming Benue people for the insecurity caused by external forces.

“Last Friday when Governor Ortom received reports of attacks on Rafinkada and Kente in Wukari local government he promptly directed investigation to be made to find out whether the attackers came from neighbouring Ukum local government in Benue State.

“He publicly gave Ukum chairman and second class traditional ruler a three day ultimatum to identify and report the attackers to security agents for arrest if it was confirmed that they came from their area.

“While the Benue APC enjoys exonerating herdsmen and blaming Benue people for killings in the state, Governor Ortom as a law abiding Chief Executive calls for investigation by security agencies to unravel, apprehend and bring perpetrators to book whoever they are. He has not branded Ukum or Benue citizens as killers, he is not Senator Akume who does that with ease.

“It is also imperative to state that Governor Ortom has always maintained that the shortfall in federal allocation was responsible for the salary arrears in the state. It is needless talking about the incessant inordinate demands of the APC leader in the state on the Governor as his refusal to yield also contributed to the two falling apart.

“There is little to say about the performance of the Ortom administration at this moment because the people have indicated their approval of his stewardship by reelecting him. But it might also suffice to state that for the more than three years that he was in the APC, leaders of that party praised his performance to the high heavens and declared him as the consensus gubernatorial candidate of the party.

“Despite the massive drop in federal allocation to the state due to the economic recession in the country when the Governor came into the office as well as a low Internally Generated Revenue base, Governor Ortom has recorded milestones in the Education, Health, Agriculture, and other sectors. The APC leader in the state and members of that party praised the Governor on record and even endorsed him as their sole candidate for the governorship election in 2019.

“It is clear that the Benue APC wants Governor Ortom to be placed on the same scale with the defeated Senator who has offered himself as a willing tool in the hands of enemies of Benue people.

“The futile attempt by Benue APC to distort facts is nothing more than a desperate effort to win some sympathy for Senator Akume who is yet to recover from the electoral defeat inflicted on him by the people who punished him for his insultive comments on them in addition to ineffective 12-year representation.

“No matter how hard they try, nothing will exonerate Senator Akume from guilt of the blood of Benue people which he traded for crumbs from the powers that be. His abusive comments are still fresh in the minds of the people”