Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, has denied an allegation made by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, that the federal government allegedly asked security operatives to spare criminal herdsmen.
Ortom Accuses Buhari Of Shielding Criminal Herders
During an interview published by ICIR on Monday, the governor alleged that armed Fulani herdsmen cannot be brought to book for their violent attacks across the country because of an order from Buhari prohibiting security agents from apprehending and arraigning them.
Ortom said, “I have spoken to some security men who told me the Federal Government gave them directive that they do not have to move against these Fulani men. That is why I keep saying that the Federal Government’s action and inaction clearly show that they are complicit in the criminality that is going on in Nigeria. They call them bandit because they do not want people to call them Fulani herdsmen.
“Remember what the Sultan of Sokoto said some time ago: anywhere you arrest ten bandits, most of them are Fulanis. That is a Fulani man himself, and that is why when I am talking, I try to differentiate it by saying that those people who are coming against us here because we have lived with Fulani before. These are from Mali, Niger, Senegal, and other parts of the world who had chosen to relocate here and take over. We have not sent any Fulani man away from Benue State. Some are still here, and some are even in my government.
“These people called Miyetti Allah have no job other than collecting huge sums of money from the government. The Federal Government is protecting them, which is why they have been talking in the manner they do because even when they do, nothing will happen to them. Even when we do, nothing has taken place. Nobody has called them to question why you are doing this and taking responsibility for attacks.”
Garba Shehu Tackles Ortom
Reacting in a statement on Wednesday, Buhari’s aide accused the governor of spreading falsehood and sowing the seeds of hatred amongst Nigerians ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Shehu challenged Ortom to mention the names of the security operatives in question who told him that President Buhari ordered Nigerian troops not to attack Fulani herdsmen responsible for causing violence in his state.
He said, “In a recent interview, the governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom, claimed that high ranking security personnel had informed him personally that President Buhari had ordered security forces not to move against the Fulani herdsmen responsible for recent violence,” Shehu said.
“These ridiculous claims are patently untrue. If he is as brave as he claims to be, let him name names. Let him name the military personnel who told him this story or forever shut up.
“It is disappointing that Ortom, who in the same interview describes himself as a child of God who believes in being lawful and respects the Nigerian constitution, felt the need to spread such a divisive lie.
“In a period of heightened insecurity, our politicians should be working to bring us closer together, not risking further violence by dishonestly seeking to further divide us along ethnic or religious lines.
“Fortunately, the cheap, dog whistle politics behind Ortom’s falsehood are plain for all to see. He is not the first opportunistic politician who has attempted to sow discord amongst his country’s people in the run-up to an election; sadly, he will not be the last.”
KanyiDaily recalls that Governor Samuel Ortom had also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to give an account of the $1 billion security funds jointly contributed by the 36 states of the federation to fight insurgency in the country.