Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has narrated how he narrowly escaped death when suspected armed herdsmen shot at him in his farm at Adeke along Makurdi-Naka road in Makurdi, Benue state capital.
The Governor, who spoke to journalists in Makurdi on Monday, January 27, 2020, called for arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Meyitta Allah for allegedly instigating violence against farmers in the state.
Ortom said he had gone to his farm in the outskirts of Makurdi town few days ago when armed herdsmen besieged the vicinity and opened fire.
“Just last week I was on my farm that is situated in the outskirts of Makurdi town when armed herdsmen came there and shot at me.
“They also shot at the vehicle of our Livestock Guards who came there and shattered it. We had to call the joint military security team, Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, who came and saved the situation,” he added.
Calling for the arrest of Miyetti Allah leadership, Ortom expressed concerns that herdsmen are allowed to carry sophisticated weapons more than security agencies and it has become a source of concern and worry that needed to be checked urgently.
“We are doing everything possible to arrest the situation. These people are deliberately coming into the state. And I have always maintained that armed herdsmen, ISWA, ISIS and Boko Haram are the same thing and they are out to prosecute the same agenda.
“There are no two ways about that. Even when we went for the North Central Security meeting. l told them the same thing. Miyetti Allah leadership should also be arrested because majority of all the kidnappings you see around are carried out by armed herdsmen.
“They are creating a lot of insecurity and hardship for the people, the federal government must ensure they are arrested and prosecuted just like we are arresting those involved in open grazing in Benue.
“The situation has become a big challenge because the farmers in Benue state are not allowed to have cutlasses but herdsmen are allowed to carry AK47. It is not correct, we cannot allow them to get into Benue and continue to create problems for us.
“I don’t have control of the coercive force, but the military Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, has done well by returning relative peace but we want them to do it more.
“Our Livestock Guards do not have guns to confront the armed herdsmen which is a big challenge. But we have been working with the Civil Defence and the trained Agro Rangers who are armed and we will collaborate with them to also help us ensure that herdsmen occupying our communities are moved out to allow the displaced persons return home to a secured environment.
“Many have asked why we still leave people in the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps, but how do I send people home to go and die in this situation?” He added.
According to the Governor, herdsmen are not coming for grazing but for interiors, declaring he was ready to defend the interest of his people. He said Nigeria is no longer in the 50s and 60s when cows were grazing for free.
“Anti- open grazing prohibition law is still in force and anyone who wants to do business of animal husbandry must embrace ranching,” the Governor declared.
He stated that the ranching law is not against anyone but aimed at protecting farmers and herdsmen.