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That Macabre Dance In The Name of Abuja Press Conference

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The cardinal purpose of government is, SECURITY; the very issue that has bedevil Benue State, most especially my own part, for a number of years.

The press conference, yesterday, by Senator Akume, on his personal grievances with the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, in an attempt to please his master and curry more personal favours, dwelt more on protecting the President than the Benue people.

2. Armed fulani militia have constantly invaded my village and neighbouring villages and continue to slaughter and kill women; pregnant women; children, aged as little as less than a year old; the aged, etc, and Senator Akume had the temerity to call such a massacre as “ALTERCATION BETWEEN OUR PEOPLE & HERDSMEN.”

3. Senator Akume attended a number of Benue Security meetings where Benue people are encouraged to defend themselves. We had no AK 47, AK 49 and other forms of automatic weapons such as the ones in the hands of the marauding Invaders. We chose to defend ourselves with cutlasses, spears and dane guns, but Senator Akume described those funny objects in the hands of our hapless & helpless villagers as, “PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS & LIGHT WEAPONS” and further asked “THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to THOROUGHLY COMB THE STATE to RECOVER THOSE ARMS” and leave us completely naked and exposed, worse than it has been happening thus far.

4. Some travellers were sadly killed on the Plateau some weeks back by suspected Irigwe youths. Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the President shedded tears and couldn’t eat the whole day when he heard of the news, because the people shared a sort of affinity with him. However, hundreds are butchered every week in Benue and President Buhari is not missing any of his daily meals and drinks. He sits down, cross his legs and pick his teeth. Governor Ortom, limited in power, shout very coarse and call the killers by their rightful names, and Senator Akume could only averred that this is “ETHNIC PROFILING” (of Fulani people).

5. Governor Samuel Ortom has very often spoken the truth to Buhari about the carnage and injustice meted to Benue people, but Senator Akume described such free speech as “PROVOCATIVE LANGUAGE TO INSULT OUR PRESIDENT” and yet ended up insulting his own state Governor in that hogwash of a press conference.

6. Senator Akume has frequently travelled to Sharia states like Katsina and, recently, Kano for the President son’s wedding. He observed their Sharia law prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and also respected Hisbah, the outfit formed to enforce Sharia. But here he is, describing the Livestock Guard of Benue State, an outfit established by Statute for the enforcement of the Open Grazing Prohibition & Ranching Establishment Law of Benue, as “ORTOM MILITIA” while also calling the Law (which is being replicated by many other States) as “FRAUD.”

7. Senator Akume claimed, in the release, that “WE TRAIN CHILDREN TO SEEK HONOUR AND IMBIBE EGALITARIAN VALUES.” Incidentally, his political practices are steeped in the very antithesis of what he claims. The insult on Benue people and the spit on the grave of those killed by his Herdsmen allies is most bereft of HONOUR!

8. In the entire 33 paragraphed press release, the Minister made just a veiled reference of our worst problem as a people and as a state – the Herdsmen incessant killings – in only paragraphs 11 and 21, and bashed the victims while creating excuses for the attackers. In his words, “we do not deny the various attacks of the Fulani militia on the Benue farmers and vice-versa on account of economic survival.” What sort of vice-versa? We live on our land and oga Minister is claiming we kill Herdsmen for economic survival? How? Again, how many Herdsmen have the 1 year old, the 2 year old, the 2,3,5 years old in Yelewata killed for so-called “economic survival” that they deserved to be killed by the Fulani militia?

9. Our people are being attacked daily by a group which is motivated by the most extreme form of terrorism known in Nigeria today, yet some within us are asking us to blame ourselves. My consolation is, all through history, the oppressors of a people and betrayals within file one after another in an evil procession into oblivion. This case won’t be different.

10. For us, the victims of frequent armed Herdsmen attack, that press conference, based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the whole hogwash was no more than a piece of paper, and we shall treat it as such!

Franc Utoo Esq.
Yelewata, Guma LG, Benue State.
•Displaced victim of Herdsmen attacks.

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