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Nothing Should Happen To Ortom, Middle Belt Forum Warns

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Nothing Should Happen To Ortom, Middle Belt Forum Warns
Nothing Should Happen To Ortom, Middle Belt Forum Warns

Leaders of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) have warned that nothing bad should happen to Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom over his insistence that power should be zoned to the South and his unbending stand against open grazing.

MBF said yesterday that because of the governor’s stand, some anti-democratic forces were working to instigate a crisis to provoke the imposition of a state of emergency on Benue.

The forum, in a statement issued by its president, Dr Bitrus Pogu, said there were plans by some elements to have the governor “eliminated”.

It therefore warned that the alleged threats on the life of governor by forces opposed to his persistent and clear stance against open grazing of cattle in Nigeria, especially in the Middle Belt region must not come to reality.

Pogu said, “More infuriating to those plotting against the Benue State governor is his insistence that the 2023 presidency must not be retained by the North; a position that was recently adopted by the forum at its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.

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“Apart from standing as the clear symbol of what the Middle Belt stands for, the irrepressible Benue governor has been in the vanguard of calling out criminal elements engaged in carrying out murderous assaults on our communities, which have led to the destruction of hundreds of our towns and villages, with some of our people forced to seek sanctuary in various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs’) camps that are poorly catered for by some state governments and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) .

“Despite pressure and threat from those that are determined to continue with the culture of bloodbath and massive destruction by armed and brutal militia, Governor Ortom has remained unswerving in the defence of his people by insisting that the anti-open grazing law can never be reversed. It is in clear acknowledgement of the imperatives of the anti-open grazing as a means to ending the bloodbath in Benue State and other states of the Middle Belt that the southern governors also outlawed open grazing to stop the rising spate of bloodshed and destruction associated with the activities of herdsmen.

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“Considering the irreversible determination of Governor Ortom to stand with his people on power rotation to the South in 2023 and his unbending opposition to rescind the anti-open grazing law, anti-democratic forces are alleged to be working underground to instigate crisis with the sole aim of having the federal government impose a state of emergency on Benue,” the forum said.

The umbrella organisation for ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt Region condemns all forms of provocations in whatever disguise that can threaten the present fragile peace in Benue state.

“We call on trouble makers that are acting at the behest of forces opposed to security in not only Benue State but also the Middle Belt Region to quickly sheathe the sword. We also call on security agencies to intervene and arrest Fulani herdsmen that have taken over several parts of Guma local government area where Governor Ortom hails from.

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“Security agents should pay close attention to the activities of these murdering herdsmen in order to stave off new waves of genocidal attacks and destruction of property in not only Benue but also the Middle Belt and the entire country. President Muhammadu Buhari should rise to his responsibility of protecting vulnerable communities against these human butcheries. The anti-open grazing law that was properly passed by the Benue lawmakers should be respected by the federal government as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.

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“We wish to draw the attention of Nigerians and the international community that what is happening now in Benue could turn out to be a dress rehearsal for yet another deadly round of violence. In the event of any destruction unleashed on Benue State or any harm visited on Governor Ortom, the Middle Belt shall hold President Buhari responsible,” Pogu said.

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