Ortom’s media Aide accuses Akume of protecting his job while Benue people perish

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

Governor Samuel Ortom’s media Aide, Jimin Geoffrey, has accused a former governor of Benue state who is also the minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, of protecting his job at the expense of the people of the state.

Read the full statement below:

Clashes between farmers and herders started several years before the administration of Samuel Ortom, the 5th democratically elected Governor of Benue State. It used to be minor skirmishes usually occasioned by encroachment on farm lands by herdsmen and their cattle. The herders most times carried cutlasses and sticks but not AK 47.

I remember as Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Samuel Ortom, suffered several disasters in his village and farms perpetrated by militia herdsmen. He had on several occasions, visited his kinsmen and other persons in Guma and beyond who were victims of vicious herdsmen attacks.

Although, the administration of Dr Gabriel Suswam as Governor also suffered herders attacks on Benue communities to a point he was personally ambushed and shot at by militia herdsmen using cattle as shield, his various ways to find lasting solution to the menace could not yield the desired result. I remember when the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, had to visit Benue State to mediate between herders and farmers with a view to bringing the menace to an end. This too could not yield the desired results.

On assumption of office as Governor in 2015, Governor Ortom sought various ways to contain attacks on Benue people by these militia herdsmen. Some say they are foreign herders. They weild AK47 and other sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. Several avenues were explored to ensure peace between farmers and herders to no avail. This led to the enactment of the now very popular Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of Benue State, 2017. The law was a Clarion call by the people of the state. And it was assented to by the Governor on May 22, 2017 during a stakeholders meeting held at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.

The assent to the ranching law by Governor Ortom was meant to ensure permanent peace between herders and farmers and not the opposite. But alas, the enactment of the law drew the ire of the Fulani Oligarchy. Without any iota of doubt, they openly disclosed that they would invade Benue until the law is scrapped. Through their agents, they didn’t hide their feelings. They held Press conferences and openly threatened bloodshed on the land. It didn’t take long before it began to come to pass. This was bold in both print and the electronic media. Interestingly, it was even before the commencement of the implementation of the law in November of same year.

To make true their threats, militia herdsmen struck parts of Guma and Logo on 1st January, 2018 and at the end of the day, many Benue people laid dead. While some were deposited in the mortuary, others were buried same day and many others declared missing. Governor Ortom organised a State mass burial for the slain farmers which was held on the 11th January, 2018. The mass burial was transmitted live on Channels Television and covered by many national and international media houses. This too did not go down well with the powers that be in the country.

At the mass burial for which funeral mass was conducted at the IBB Square Makurdi, Senator George Akume, now Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs brought himself to ridicule before Benue people. Senator Akume mounted the podium and instead of sympathising with the victims and bereaved families, went about telling Benue people how President Muhammadu Buhari loves them and was making plans to give them appointments. He was booed by angry sympathisers and mourners and the consequences are now history.

After the mass burial, there had been sustained attacks on Benue communities and beyond by militia herdsmen, some of whom are alleged to be foreign herders with alleged collaboration and active support of some powerful individuals at the top. It was, and still in the wake of attacks that Senator Akume would later be appointed Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The attacks on farmers, killing, maiming and destruction of ancestral homes and occupation continued and had now spread to many parts of the country while implementation of the ranching law in Benue and advocacy for adopting the global best method of cattle rearing by Governor Ortom kept ringing bell in the ears of many. This, however did not merit any comment or action by Senator George Akume who now enjoy his privileges as Minister.

As God would have it, Colleague Governors and other patriotic Nigerians began to see ranching as the only viable solution to farmers – herders crisis while the body language of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government as evidenced by press statements issued by his aides indicate that the highest authority in the country is unfortunately opposed to ranching and rather obsessed with Ruga, Cattle Routes and Cattle Colonies among other policies that only seek to favour the herders.

It is unfortunate that as foreign militia herdsmen allegedly backed by highly placed and powerful individuals continue to wreck havoc in Benue with several avenues being explored by Governor Ortom to contain the attacks, leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC in North Central Nigeria and Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator George Akume has remained conveniently silent. He seems to be okay with the assault on the land he once governed from 1999 to 2007. He has never uttered a word in condemnation of the conquest and occupation agenda. Rather, he had consistently, through his spokesperson, Aondona Mkor, chosen to back every step taken by the Presidency against his people.

It is on record that Gbor Leke, a compound in Mbachaver-Ikyondu council ward of Tarka Local Government Area of Benue State was attacked on the night of 9th May, 2021 where one Abanyi was killed. Before then, suspected militia herdsmen kidnapped and rapped teenage girls from Mbakor. They kept them hostage for about three weeks before they were released. This is Senator Goege Akume’s local government in Benue State.

With the consistent position of Akume’s spokesman, Aondona Mkor, who calls himself a consultant and now an agent of propagating the message of the presidency in favour of the Fulani Oligarchy, one can conveniently say Akume prefers to protect his job while his people of Benue State perish in the hands of militia herdsmen.

With the recent solidarity visit of the presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu to Senator George Akume as witnessed in a picture wherein Akume was flanked by Garba Shehu and Aondona Mkor vis-a-vis renewed vigour with which Mkor projects releases from the presidency, I can see Senator George Akume speaking through a dismissed lecturer at the Benue State University Makurdi, Mkor. But like the anger of the Benue people in 2019, same will be replicated in 2023 and beyond because those who don’t value our existence now should not value or benefit from our existence tomorrow.

Jimin Geoffrey Writes from Makurdi, Benue State.