Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has revealed that herdsmen had earlier issued a statement where they made their intention to take over the state.
The Governor said that the herdsmen had claimed that Benue belongs to them and that Nigeria was the country given to them by God.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with DAILY POST, Ortom said that the killings and attacks being witnessed in different parts of the country were not about cattle rearing but a deliberate move by some people to takeover those places.
In his words, ” I tell you the truth, this is not about rearing of cattle in Nigeria. Recall that Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, a Fulani organization, issued a statement, saying they were going to kill and that they would mobilize people to go and kill. It was there in the press.
“If you check on social media, you can get it. They issued that statement and said it is about occupation and that this land belongs to them; that Nigeria is the only country given to them by God and so Benue land belongs to them and they are here to take over the land and that is why when you hear from the presidency careless statement that its either you give your land or you get killed so that you allow cattle to move about, you wonder which country we are.
“This is why when we were burying the Rev. Fathers that were killed, I was asking myself, ‘which country are we?’ Is this the giant of Africa that they call us? Is that what we want to show that we are giant of Africa?
“So you can see a big vacuum. You see a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; because he’s a Fulani man, he is only concerned about Fulani people, herdsmen and cattle.
“He will come and say that when you block cattle road, it is like you are blocking water and that water will find a way to go out. A Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is supposed to protect this country made that careless statement and no one has cautioned him, no one has sanctioned him.
“They said it’s because of the anti-grazing law that attacks are going on in Benue. How about Adamawa, how about Plateau, how about Kogi, how about Delta, Edo and even Ebonyi. I can go on and on. The South West is not spared. What is going on? But people are keeping quiet, and not saying anything? For me, I will continue to talk until I get justice for my people. That is why I was elected, so I cannot keep quiet. It is not right, let’s get it right.
“I have challenged Nigerians, I have challenged the herdsmen and Miyetti Allah and any Fulani man who thinks that there is a better option and alternative to what we have done, bring it on the table, let us debate it.
“This is getting to 3 years and it has been challenging. I have challenged anyone who has opposed this law to bring alternative, then we can debate on it. I can call the stakeholders that there is a better option we can follow. But I tell you, this law was researched properly.
“We were not in a hurry. We took our time, even though Government House was occupied for 5 good times by the people of Benue State who were trying to hurry us to pass the law but we said look, let us follow the due process, this is a sensitive matter, this is a new thing that is coming, let us work with it.
“The House of Assembly was occupied for 7 good times. In fact, at a point, old women and children came here with mattresses, some with wrappers and women pulled their wrappers and blocked the Government House that they would remain with us until the Anti-Grazing Law was passed.
“It took us time to appeal to them, to convince them to go back, to give us time. So we have done our best and we think this is the best way to go and so far, no one has come out with a better option.
“So we pray that God will help us. Like I keep saying, all of us that are leaders today are on oath with our people to do the right thing. I believe that those who are responsible for giving us justice if they don’t do it, the day of reckoning is coming when God himself will give us justice.”
By John Owen Nwachukwu, Daily Post