Prominent groups in the country, including the Middle Belt Forum, the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Northern Governors’ Forum on Sunday condemned Saturday’s assassination attempt on the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
As the groups, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, condemned the attack, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on Sunday ordered a full-scale investigation into the incident.
Ortom had on Saturday said suspected herdsmen numbering about 15 attacked him in his farm at Tyo-Mu community, near Makurdi, the state capital.
He attributed the attack to his campaign against killer herdsmen, who had been attacking farmers in the state and other parts of the country.
Reacting to the attack, the Northern Governors’ Forum described it as a disturbing development, which must be investigated thoroughly.
In a statement on Sunday by its Chairman and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, the group said the attack was another attempt by criminals to cause mayhem not only in Benue State, but also in the nation as a whole.
Also, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum said the attempt by gunmen to make Benue State ungovernable would continue to fail.
In a statement titled, “Attempt On Governor Ortom’s life,” which was signed by the Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, in Abuja, on Sunday, the governors expressed shock at the attempt on their colleague’s life.
It read in part, “The NGF empathises with the governor and the people of Benue State on this sad, cowardly, and wicked plan and vehemently condemns the act in its entirety.
“All hands must be on deck to uncover the identities of those involved in this heinous crime.
“The NGF wishes to state categorically that the attempt to make Benue State ungovernable is unacceptable and will fail woefully.
“Only recently, a brother of one of the former governors of the state was mowed down in cold blood. This dishonourable and shameful act of resorting to violence, for whatever reason, to eliminate citizens of Benue State by brutal means must not continue.”
Don’t sweep attack on Ortom, under the carpet, M’Belt Forum tells FG
The National Publicity Secretary of the MBF, Dr Isuwa Dogo, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Jos, said it was inconceivable that a person of the status of a governor of a state could be attacked in such a brazen manner.
Dogo said, “ They (the assailants ) have crossed the redline by making an attempt on the life of Governor Ortom. For us in the Middle Belt, the attack on the Benue governor is tantamount to a coup and a declaration of war on the Nigerian nation because killing a governor who holds a symbol of authority of a state has gone beyond an individual to a crime against the state.
“Before now, we had expected the army, the air force and all other security agents under the control of the Federal Government to see the incident for what it is, a coups d’état, and move in quickly and comb all the forests where those said to be responsible are hiding and apprehend them to face the full wrath of the law. But for this not to have been done up till this moment is a serious error of judgment.”
He also warned the Fulani herdsmen not to think that they were above the law.
ACF condemns bandits’ attack on Ortom
Also, the pan-northern socio-political organisation, the ACF, condemned the attack on the Benue State governor
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, in a chat with one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Sunday, stated, “We cannot comment on an issue as serious as the attempt on the life of a governor without adequate information. We, however, condemn those who tried to take the life of Ortom.”
IG orders security beef-up around Ortom, orders probe into assassination attempt
Few hours after the groups spoke, the IG, Adamu, ordered a full-scale investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack.
The IG condemned the incident and directed the Commissioner of Police, Benue State Command, Audu Madaki, to take adequate measures towards strengthening security in the state, particularly around the governor.
The Force spokesman, Frank Mba, in a statement on Sunday, said the IG had also directed the CP to ensure the arrest and prosecution of the attackers.
It was titled, ’Attack on Governor Ortom of Benue State: IG orders full-scale investigations.’
The statement read, “The IGP has also specifically directed the CP to carry out painstaking investigations into the incident and ensure the arrest and prosecution of persons indicted in the course of the investigations.
“Meanwhile, in order to ensure a speedy, thorough and conclusive investigation into the matter, the IGP has ordered the immediate deployment of a team of specialized investigators from the Force Criminal Investigations Department, Abuja, in Benue State to provide additional investigative support to the Benue State Police Command.”
While calling for calm, Adamu assured the people of Benue State and the country at large that the Force would continue to do its best in stabilising the security situation in the country.
Buhari orders transparent investigation, says incident shouldn’t be politicised
Also in a statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, on Sunday night, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), ordered security agencies to carry out what he called “open and transparent” investigation into the attack on Ortom.
The statement titled, ‘President Buhari condemns attack on Governor Samuel Ortom, orders thorough, transparent investigation, quoted the President as further directing that all those linked to the attack should be made to face the law.
“Let there be open and transparent investigation and whoever is linked to it should be caught and be made to face the law,” the President reportedly directed.
In expressing his sympathies, and that of the government of the federation to Governor Ortom and all Benue indigenes, Buhari said the unfortunate incident must not be politicised, reiterating that an attack on one Nigerian is an attack on all Nigerians.
Benue people not weak, Mark warns FG
A former President of the Senate, David Mark, on his part asked the Federal Government to address the insecurity in the country to prevent Nigerians from taking to self-help.
Mark, a former military governor of Niger State, also tasked the security operatives to wake up to the challenges of securing lives and property to avoid the consequences of a resort to self-help.
According to a statement by his media aide, Paul Mumeh, on Sunday, Mark condemned the herdsmen assassination attempt on Ortom.
Mark asked, “If a state governor can be so brazenly attacked, what would they not do to the ordinary citizens?
“ Let me state clearly that Benue people are receptive and accommodating, but this should not be misconstrued or mistaken for weakness. Enough of this malady.
“If our government and security operatives can no longer guarantee peoples’ safety in their homes, farms or places of business, I am worried that the situation may compel citizens to resort to self-help.”
Fulani group claims responsibility for attack, says Ortom won’t escape next time
A shadowy group, the Fulani Nationality Movement said it carried out the attack on Ortom.
It said 11 of its members were involved in the assassination attempt on Ortom, noting that a technical error aided the governor’s escape, adding that he would not escape next time
In a statement on Sunday, titled, ‘Why we attacked Ortom: The FUNAM statement,’ signed by one Umar Shehu,’ the group threatened to deal with individuals or states that opposed open grazing in the country.
It stated, “Our attention has been drawn to media reports today speculating about who attacked the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom
“Yes. Yes, We did. The Fulani Nationality Movement, carried out the attack. We have genuine reasons. We acted on behalf of millions of Fulani people in 15 countries.
“It’s a case of vengeance against an infidel who has used his time and money, deployed in destroying the Fulani values and inheritance.”
Olalekan Adetayo, John Alechenu, Sunday Aborisade, Friday Olokor, Adelani Adepegba, James Abraham, Godwin Isenyo and John Charles