The issue of Fulani herdsmen and farmers conflict in Benue State has resulted in the loss of countless lives and property over the years. Sadly enough, these security issues and loss of lives have been trivialized by the authorities. Reduced to banter and personal attacks and counter attacks.
Today, Nigerian Police Force Public Relation Officer, Jimoh Moshood, appearing on Channels TV Sunrise Daily brazenly attacked the Governor of Benue State, Mr. Samuel Ortom. Mr. Moshood called Ortom a drowning governor and refused to accept responsibility on behalf of the Police on their failure to protect lives and property.
Force PRO Moshood was asked by Channels TV presenters to retract his fowl statement on national TV but he declined maintaining his insults on the governor of Benue.
This came as the PRO responded to the calls by Gov. Ortom to IGP Ibrahim Idris to resign over his seeming sympathy towards the cause of the Fulani herdsmen.
In a reaction, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Terver Akase, maintained the view of the governor of Benue State that IGP Ibrahim Idris should resign.
“The state commissioner of police takes orders from the IGP, if he couldn’t direct his men to maintain peace in the state, then he should resign.”
Jimoh Moshood then responded:
“The governor should be the one to resign because he’s a drowning man, who has failed to put measures in place to maintain law and order in his state.”
A statement by Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Terver Akaseexpressed the disappointment of the state governor:
“We read statements credited to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris as having blamed the recent killing of innocent Benue people by herdsmen on the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state.
“We thought that the IGP was misquoted and expected the police authorities to issue a rebuttal to the reports hence our delay in responding swiftly.
Consequently, we have to respond to the erroneous impression which the reports have created.
“Indeed it was these unrelenting spate of attacks that prompted the people of the state to seek a permanent solution to the incessant clashes between farmers and herders hence the law for the establishment of ranches as the best method of animal husbandry across the globe.
“The law which has constitutional backing followed due process with the requisite public hearings and inputs from various stakeholders. The police authorities had ample opportunity to also make inputs while the process was ongoing. They however failed to do so.
“The unfortunate claim by the IGP indicates that some of those saddled with the responsibility of protecting and property and maintaining law and order have abdicated their duty and become accomplices with those undermining the very existence of the country.
This is unacceptable.
“If truly the IGP said what was widely reported by the media, our conclusion is that his is a clear case of a man who is either on a mission to mislead the nation or is complicit in the attacks on Benue communities and the killing of many people by terror herdsmen.
“The Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of Benue State is certainly not the cause of the crisis as insinuated by the IGP. Mr Idris needs to be reminded that Fulani herdsmen attacked Benue State more than 50 times and killed scores of people before the law was enacted.
“The IGP should tell Nigerians if states like Adamawa, Zamfara, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Enugu, Edo, Plateau among others where armed herdsmen have killed hundreds of people also have anti-open grazing laws in place.
“It will be recalled that a few days after the killings took place and all fingers were pointed towards the direction of armed herdsmen, the IGP quickly rose in defence of the herdsmen and frankly tried to divert attention from the genocide being perpetrated by herdemen with a comment that it was a ‘mere communal clash’. Did he not know that there was a law in place in Benue State when he made that first statement?
“With his latest demand that the ranching law of Benue be suspended, it is now clear where the loyalty and interest of the Inspector General of Police lies – certainly not with innocent Nigerians. He has now positioned himself not only as the mouthpiece of those who are killing Benue people but indeed as their shield. Little wonder herdsmen still proudly carry out sophisticated weapons and willfully terrorize innocent people in the state without being arrested.
“We wish to place it on record that contrary to the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the Inspector General of Police should relocate to Benue to ensure that the killings stop, the IGP spent only one day in Benue and left for a destination where only he could tell. No one has seen him in Benue since that day.
“Nigerians must be told that contrary to the statement credited to the IGP, herdsmen are still killing people in Benue, so it will be wrong to say that enough security has been provided. At the last count after the mass burial of 73 victims of the attacks, about ten people have been killed in “Guma Local Government Area, one killed in Logo and many more receiving treatment in the hospital having suffered varying degrees of injuries with property worth millions of naira destroyed.
“Benue now has nearly 100, 000 displaced persons in seven camps established by the State Government. We therefore find IG Ibrahim Idris’ statement as mockery and a shameful dance on the graves of those killed in the state by herdsmen.
“The constitutional responsibility of the police is to maintain law and order and not to make or criticise same.
“That the IGP would have the audacity to blame a law made to ensure peace in the state and call for its repeal amounts to taking sides with lawless groups that gave notice to invade and carried out their threats.
“No wonder, the police ignored petitions for the arrest and prosecution of leaders of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the masterminds of the current invasion and the attendant massacre.
“If the Inspector General of Police, Mr Idris is not competent to help bring an end to the invasion and killing of innocent people in Benue and other states by herdsmen, the noble thing to do is to resign instead of twisting facts to suit his objective.”