Tuesday, 28 March 2017


After he held a security council meeting with stakeholders from Katsina-Ala, Ukum, Logo, and Kwande local government areas at the Benue Peoples House today, Governor Samuel Ortom interacted with journalists who asked questions about the meeting and other issues. Excerpts:

How was your meeting?

It’s been wonderful and we appreciate God, all of them were here as you can see and the meeting went on very well. It’s not just the traditional rulers but elders and other stakeholders from four local governments. We have agreed on the strategies to adopt. One of the most impressive things about this meeting is the fact that we’ve been able to identify the problem in Sankera. The issue is not communal clash, it’s not about the various local governments fighting one another, it’s about the criminal elements that are involved in this matter and we have identified them. We’ll go after them with the support of the security agencies and the communities and the traditional rulers and we will be able to fish them out. All that the criminals want to do is to put the people at logger heads and we have been able to identify that and we have agreed that we will not be taken into their trick to begin to fight one another. There is no point. We have identified those criminal elements because we are not ready to surrender the state to criminals to take over and continue to unleash terror on our people.

Having identified the culprits, how soon can Benue people in this area begin to sleep with their two eyes closed?

With immediate effect and with the support of Mr. President and the security agencies and with what I have now, I think we can contend with the situation but if I need more I will ask but so far, so good, they know and they are all on the run – the criminal elements. Once we have been able to identify them, we will sanction them according to the law. One thing I will continue to say is that people should not take law into their hands. We are law abiding citizens and we must continue to do the right thing at all times and report breaches and trespasses and infringements wherever you find them; whether it’s from the herdsmen, or from the farmers, report to us and we are ready to take on the criminal thing that is happening within the society. Like I keep saying, the issue of security is not just for government, it’s not just for security agencies; it’s for all of us. At least, when it comes to intelligence gathering, we must gather this information for security agencies to act upon. But when it is not reported, it becomes a little bit difficult and with the resolve we have had in this meeting, from that axis, I believe that we shall work together to achieve maximum security for our people.

Your counterpart from Rivers State fired another salvo today, that you should be probed…

Well, anybody could come and probe, I’m ready for any probe. I declared the Paris fund refund, I declared it; the bailout, I declared it and the account is there and anybody who wants it should come. I don’t want mixing issues with somebody who does not respect the rule of law. Like I said, he is not someone that I respect and I don’t want to join issues with him. Let him live in his own world. He is in Rivers State and I’m in Benue State and I’m presiding over the affairs of Benue State and the people are happy with me. As you can see in the various stakeholders’ meetings I call; each time I’m given a pass mark and they commend my efforts and I’m satisfied serving them. I’m not serving Governor Wike. I don’t want to join issues with him. Please I don’t want to entertain questions relating to him. I don’t want distraction.

Are you under pressure bringing the security situation under control?

Do you see me as someone under pressure? Look at me, I’m looking very okay and I’m not under pressure.

How is your governing party, according to Mr. President, getting prepared to conduct local government elections?

On local government elections – of course we are ready. We won election and this time around too the party is trying very hard. We are in touch with the people and I can assure you that we’re going to win in all the 23 local governments and in all the 276 council wards. I can assure you that we’re going to do that because we are on ground.

Can you update us on the security situation in Jato-Aka?

In Jato-Aka, the situation is under control, there was youth restiveness but it has been arrested. We are on top of it now and everything is normal, and activities will return back as normal.

There were killing and burning of villages in Jato-Aka. Are we going to stand back and watch this because our people did wrong?

What is government going to do to arrest this?

All these killings you people talk about, where are the killings? I’ve just held meetings with the traditional rulers from that area and nobody told me about killings. You are telling me and you know some of these things are not good for the image of the state, especially for those of you who are here. When you hear rumors, please seek to confirm.

I can’t just act on rumor that people are being killed. It is not the best. When you see pictures that people were killed in Kaduna and they say it is in Benue State; it is not fair to us. Please, let us try and verify some of these facts. We are on top of the situation.

I’ve just concluded a meeting with my Security Council and the entire traditional council from that area and nobody is talking about killings in that area. We recovered a gun which was missing from 93 battalion from that axis and handed it over to the Commander at 72 battalion here in Makurdi and we have not heard about reports of killings.

By Tahav Agerzua

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