Presidency Rebukes Ortom for Attacks on Buhari over Benue Killings
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The presidency yesterday chastised Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, for casting aspersion on his person over the recent killings, including that of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in a camp in the state.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, denied allegation of the president being complicit.
He said: “President Buhari has expressed his disappointment and sadness to hear Governor Ortom of Benue State make a litany of accusations against his person and his government following the recent unfortunate incidents in the state.”
While sympathising with bereaved families, he said the president stated that the rising levels of incidents, especially the killings and violence in various parts of the country called for further collaboration with security agencies to curb its recurrence.
According to him, no responsible government takes pleasure in such events as the killing of the military and that of innocent citizens taking refuge in the IDPs’ camp.
The statement said Buhari was pained by the violence happening not only in Benue State but also in other parts of the country and expected that the law enforcement agencies would fish out the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Shehu also quoted Buhari as saying that the lives of fellow citizens should not be desecrated by deploying them in political diatribe, as shown by the attack on the president by Ortom.
Shehu said: “Buhari took an oath to defend the life and property of every citizen, a duty he takes seriously and is committed to ensuring.”
He stated that the president, while giving an assurance that the killers would be arrested and prosecuted, said: “Those citizens regardless of their affiliations, who either incite, sponsor or are proven to be abettors of these atrocities will face the law squarely and be answerable for their crimes against our fellow citizens and nation.
“President Buhari continuously stresses that the strength of our country lies in our diversity in faith, culture, and traditions and attempts to sharpen the divide between northern and southern Nigeria, between Muslims and Christians, and between communities that have coexisted for centuries should be frowned upon and resisted.
“As Nigerians, we accuse colonial rulers of the policy of divide and rule. Today, it is our own leaders who put region against region, religion against religion, ethnic group against ethnic group and community against community.
“The future of Benue State and indeed that of the entire country lies in harmony and the respect for law, order, and the constitution. It is the only way to achieve progress and development.
“While the president will continue to keep security, police and the armed forces on their toes to be on top of their act in troubled parts of the country, the situation in the states will greatly be helped by everyone working together because that is the foundation on which progress and prosperity can be achieved.
“Benue under the Ortom administration ought to cooperate with the federal government in the implementation of a number of national strategies programmes in addressing underlying issues militating against peace, progress and development.
“This can still get done when the interest of the people is placed above all other interests. A government voted into office by the people, should treat the people as its masters and not as its servants.”