John Charles, Makurdi
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has told his counterpart in Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, to ‘mind his own business’ and not to interfere with the issue of Benue.
Ortom handed this warning to the representative of Lalong at the stakeholders’ meeting with the National Economic Council Technical Committee on Herdsmen/Farmers’ Crises Resolution.
The stakeholders were led by the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi.
Ortom said his deputy, Benson Abounu, informed him about the discussion between him and Lalong, where the Plateau State Governor reiterated his warning to Ortom not to go ahead with the Benue State anti-open grazing law.
Ortom said, “My deputy told me that he had a discussion with Lalong recently at a function, where he (Lalong) said that he had to apologise to me over his statement because of pressure on him, saying, he stands by his earlier statement.
“He also told the people that he introduced this woman (pointing at the woman on the high table) in this committee to me, whereas, this woman was introduced to me by Nasir el-Rufai, not him.
“Thank God he has a representative here; please tell him to stop interfering with the affairs of my state; let him mind his business in Plateau and I will mind my own business here.
“I am the governor here (Benue); how can he say that he warned me? Who is he to warn me? He can only advise me.”
Lalong had at the peak of the herdsmen’s attacks on Benue State told newsmen in Abuja that he warned Ortom against the new law.
The stakeholders’ meeting held at the new banquet hall of the state government house on Sunday night.
The meeting, which dragged into the early hours of Monday, had in attendance some National Assembly members, religious leaders, traditional rulers and opinion moulders.
Speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of the Benue State Traditional Council, HRM Prof. James Ayatse, questioned the credibility of the committee since some of its members had at one time or the other taken position on the Benue crisis.
According to him, the governors of Plateau and Kaduna State – Lalong and El-Rufai, respectively – had made cynical statements concerning the crisis and asked, ‘how do we get justice?’
“While in pains, a Benue delegation visited President Buhari and the only consolation he could give us was to say, ‘In the name of God, accommodate your fellow countrymen.’ With this statement, how will my people get justice?”
The paramount ruler charged the committee members to be neutral and discharge their responsibility with the fear of God.
Other who spoke at the meeting included the Catholic Bishop, Makurdi Diocese, Wilfred Anagbe; a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mike Aondoaka, (SAN); and a former commissioner in the state, Mrs. Rebecca Akpedzan.
Others were the President General, Mdzough U Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Benard Hon; the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Benue State, Rev. Akpen Negua, and a second-class traditional ruler, Chief A. Abomtse.
All the speakers condemned what they termed the lacklustre attitude of the Federal Government to the crisis and insisted that there was no going back on the new law.