President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned attack on Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, saying the string of brutal attacks on individuals and communities in the state, with the latest one targeting the governor, was unacceptable.
The president also welcomed the dispatch of a high level team of crack investigators to the state from the police headquarters in Abuja, urging the officers to uncover who was behind the attacks and bring them to justice.
The condemnation came as the 36 state governors warned that the attack is a dangerous signal for the nation’s security, even as former Senate President David Mark said the development might force citizens to resort to self-help.
The governor was reportedly attacked Saturday at Tyo-Mu along Makurdi-Gboko road in Makurdi local government area of the state during a visit to his farm.
In expressing his sympathies to the governor and all Benue indigenes Sunday, President Buhari said the unfortunate incident must not be politicised, reiterating that an attack on one Nigerian is an attack on all Nigerians.
The president also directed the police to undertake a thorough investigation into the incident involving the governor and into all such incidents affecting individuals and communities in the state.
“Let there be open and transparent investigation and whoever is linked to it should be caught and be made to face the law,” he said in a statement Sunday in Abuja.
Ahead of the presidential directive, Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu has ordered full-scale investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack and attempt on the life of Governor Ortom.
A statement in Abuja Sunday by Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) Frank Mba said while Adamu condemned the incident, he “has equally directed the Commissioner of Police in charge of Benue State Command to take adequate measures towards strengthening and improving security in the state, particularly around the governor.”
The spokesperson said, “The IGP has also specifically directed the CP to carry out painstaking investigations into the incident and ensure the arrest and prosecution of persons indicted in the course of the investigations.”
And to ensure speedy, thorough and conclusive investigations into the matter, the IGP also ordered the immediate deployment of a team of specialised investigators from the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Abuja to Benue state to provide additional investigative support to the state Police Command.
He said: “While calling for calm, the IGP has assured the people of Benue State and the country at large that the Force will continue to do its best in stabilising the security situation in the country.
“The IGP further reiterates that the Force will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to advance the fight against violent crimes and other criminal activities across the country.”
Also, Benue state Commissioner of Police Audu Madaki has stated that the Police under his watch won’t condone any act of lawlessness.
In a statement issued Sunday by spokesman of the command, DSP Catherine Sewuese Anene, Madaki condemned what he described as unprovoked attack on the governor.
He commended officers who were involved in the gun duel for bravery and ordered an investigation into the case.
The state confirmed that the command received a distress call Saturday 20th March, 2021 at about 12hours from one of the police officers deployed as escort to the governor.
The officer said while on escort duty with the governor to his farm located at Abua Village, Gboko road, Makurdi; some armed men numbering about 15 came out from the bush and started shooting sporadically at his entourage.
“Upon receipt of this information, a team of police officers was detailed to the scene to prevent further breakdown of law and order and on the spot assessment of the crime scene,” he added.
Reacting to the development in a statement Sunday in Abuja, the governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) condemned the attack, saying no effort should be spared to apprehend those behind it.
In the statement by the NGF chairman and governor of Ekiti state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the governors while sympathising with Ortom, said: “The news of the broad daylight attempt to cut short the life of the Governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, is shocking and a rude awakening.
“All hands must be on deck to uncover the identities of those involved in this heinous crime. The NGF wishes to state categorically that the attempt to make Benue State ungovernable is unacceptable and will fail woefully.
“Only recently the brother of one of the former governors of the state was mowed down in cold blood.
“This dishonourable and shameful act of resorting to violence, for whatever reason, to eliminate citizens of Benue State by brutal means must not continue.”
Similarly, the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) condemned the attack on Governor Ortom, describing it as a disturbing development which must be investigated thoroughly.
NSGF chairman and governor of Plateau state, Mr Simon Lalong, in a statement signed by his director of press Sunday, Dr. Makut Macham, said the attack on the governor was yet another daring attempt by criminals to cause mayhem not only in Benue state but the nation as a whole.
While praising Ortom’s security details for repelling the attack and securing the governor and members of his entourage, Lalong said relevant security agencies must carry out detailed investigation to fish out those behind the attack and their sponsors.
They said all hands must be on deck to tame this degeneration of security in the country threatening the nation’s corporate existence.
Expressing the northern governors’ solidarity with their colleague and the entire people of Benue state, the NSGF assured it would continue to engage and support security agencies in their duty of securing the region and nation at large.
Meanwhile, a former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark has urged the federal government to step up on the nation’s security challenge so citizens won’t resort to self-help.
Mark, in a statement issued in Abuja Sunday, said the deteriorating security situation has become scandalous and making Nigeria a subject of ridicule before other nations.
“If a state Governor can be so brazenly attacked, what would they not do to the ordinary citizens. Let me state clearly that Benue people are receptive and accommodating. But this should not be misconstrued or mistaken for weakness. Enough of this malady.
“If our government and security operatives can no longer guarantee peoples’ safety in their homes, farms or places of business, I am worried that the situation may compel citizens to resort to self help.
“That is the situation; we cannot contemplate and must not be allowed to happen because the consequences would be catastrophic.
“Therefore, federal government and all the security agencies must of a necessity come to terms with the painful reality of the unabating insecurity in the land and resolve to end it”, he said.
He, however told Governor Ortom not to be deterred by the incident, but should rather spur him to beef up security and welfare for citizens of the state.
He noted that the governor had lived up to his oath of office to defend and protect the lives and property of Benue people without compromise.
The former lawmaker also advised all citizens to be security conscious at all times by providing useful information to security operatives of any suspected activity believed to be unlawful or anti- society.
Ortom lauds IGP
And 24 hours after the incident, Governor Ortom spoke at two separate events in Makurdi Sunday, where he said recent happenings in Nigeria pointed to the fact that the country is sick and on life support gasping for breath.
He spoke both at the 37th priestly anniversary thanksgiving mass in honour of Reverend Father Donatus Ugema and also during a solidarity visit by members of the State Executive Council, traditional rulers and other stakeholders.
The governor said the attack would rather strengthen his determination to execute God’s divine agenda for Benue.
He stressed that what he needed from the people was prayers, noting that his election to be governor of the state was divine and declared all the evil plans against him would always fail.
The governor said: “I commend the quick response of the Inspector General of Police by deploying a crack team of detectives to investigate the attack on me.
“The Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM had already claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt and should be arrested and questioned.”
Speaking during the visit, Secretary to the Benue State Government, Professor Anthony Ijohor, SAN, thanked God for sparing the life of the governor, saying the evil planners would never succeed.
in another remark, the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Sir John Ngbede, chairman, Governing Council of the Benue State University, Professor Zacharys Gundu and Dr Cletus Tyokyaa, expressed delight that the attack failed, stressing that it would have caused a war if it had succeeded.
Others who spoke at the event were Tor Lobi, Chief Moses Anagende, Head of Service, Mrs Veronica Onyeke and a member of the Middle-Belt Forum, Engineer Ben Akaakar, who all condemned the attack, saying God would expose and bring the assailants to justice.
Bandits strike in Kaduna villages
In another development, the Kaduna State Government Sunday said suspected armed bandits have killed one in Chikun local government area, just as troops rescued a kidnapped boy in Kachia local government area of the state
This was confirmed in a statement issued Sunday by the state Commissioner for Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan.
He said: “Security agencies have reported that a 30-year-old herder, Yakubu Aruwa was killed while grazing his cattle between Gora and Ungwan Pa area Zangon Kataf LGA of Kaduna State.
“The victim was grazing with another herder, one Muhammadu Sani, who escaped the assailants, while Yakubu Aruwa was overpowered. The carcasses of three cows were recovered, with another three reported missing.”
“In another incident, armed bandits opened fire on motorists in Udawa, Chikun LGA and killed a driver, Danladi Maisamari.
“Furthermore, troops of Operation Thunder Strike rescued an abducted boy, 15-year old Doti Haruna, one of four boys abducted by bandits from Katambi, Kachia LGA. He was rescued by the troops during a patrol to Alewa village in the same LGA.
“The rescued boy revealed that another boy, Abdullahi Babale, was released. Both boys have however been reunited with their families,” it said.
Aruwan also said: “Further reports from security agencies and community leaders in Kizachi village, Kauru local government area have revealed two additional casualties from the attack reported on Friday.
“The two casualties are identified as Kururuwa Ali and Aweki Ibrahim Achinge.
“This now places the total casualty figure from the attack at 12 persons, as against the 10 indicated in initial reports.
“Also, a total of 74 houses have been confirmed razed, as against 56 initially reported.
“Receiving the reports, Governor Nasir El-Rufai prayed for the repose of the victims’ souls, and commiserated with their families. He also wished the injured victims a quick recovery.
“The Governor also condoled the family of Yakubu Aruwa and Abdullahi M. Gulloma, Chizoba Ogbeche, Abdulrahman Zakariyau, Taiye Odewale, Abuja, John Shiaondo, Makurdi, and Muhammad Tanko Shittu, Jos that reprisal is not a viable solution to any grievance.
“The killing of the herder, according to security agencies is linked to an earlier killing of a farmer, one Irmiya Godwin, who was killed by last week after working in his farm in Gora Gan general area,” the statement added.