A civil society organization, Good Governance and Transparency Initiative has demanded for a timely resolution of the nagging clashes between farmers and herdsmen in Benue, Taraba States and other parts of the country.
The group during a rally held at the Unity Fountain, Abuja on Thursday, threatened to occupy the US Embassy and other places if nothing was done urgently by the Nigerian Government and the international community to bring Governors Samuel of Benue Ortom and Darius Ishaku of Taraba States to book.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Mrs. Jaiyeola Mohammed, the Executive Director, faulted the two governors for lackadaisical attitudes which snowballed into the senseless killings.
The group specifically came hard on Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom for using the state’s resources to sponsor protests against the current government overseas.
The address reads in full.
The Good Governance and Transparency Initiative is today compelled to undertake this march after watching, in horror, the delay in arresting the ugly crisis between herdsmen and farmers, notably in Benue state, which has become the poster state for politically sponsored irresponsibility that has birthed mayhem.
The New Year killings in Benue state shocked not just the entire nation but also confounded the whole world. It sickened people to know that things degenerated so fast in a state with a Chief Executive/Chief Security Officer that refused to be on top of the situation and allowed things to get this bad under his watch. We begin to wonder what the Benue state governor, Mr. Samule Ortom has done with the security vote of his state.
Our bigger worry, however, is the inaction that has continued to allow attention to focus on the wrong sources of the crisis. There is so much of playing the ostrich going on while the crisis festers. Our thoughts are that the problem in Benue state would have been contained to that geographical entity and promptly dealt with to save other states from suffering the fallout of a politically and ethnically motivated crisis. A killing related to the crisis in Benue has been reported in Ekiti while Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau and even Kaduna are practically on edge because of what has happened in that state.
It is most unfortunate that instead of accepting reality and admitting what he did wrong to provoke the current crisis, Governor Ortom has rather engaged in looking at the cause of the problem in every other place except within himself.
This is despite the barrage of documentary evidence of him setting up militias and placing firearms in their arms to kill herdsmen. He is yet to explain what he stands to gain from the deaths of Benue people that he knew would definitely result from reprisals from the activities of his militias.
The Benue state governor has even taken things a step further by deploying N1 billion of his state’s fund to finance protests in major cities of the world as we earlier alerted. Not even the shame of being discovered as manipulating events was enough to dissuade this governor from this folly. Our concern is how a state governor could spend so much of his state’s resources on just eight (8) protesters in the United States. We then wonder how much he has spent on the hundreds of militias he has organized and how much he has expended on their weapons.
Such attitude would jeopardize any chance of peacefully resolving the problem in Benue state, which is fast spilling into other areas. If the governor continues to divert money meant for security and the wellbeing of the population to finance his protesters then there is danger that the truth may never surface while the people of the state continue to suffer.
Our group is interested in the peaceful resolution of the conflict between herdsmen and farmers, which is why we are staging this protest to demand a full investigation of the roles of the Governor of Benue State, Mr. Samuel Ortom and his Taraba state counterpart, Mr. Darius Dickson Ishiaku in sponsoring ethnic militias to wipe out people of Fulani origin. Only such investigation would reveal facts that will prevent a full descent into state sponsored ethnic cleansing that has repercussions for all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
The investigation should include terms of reference that will yield recommendations in pursuit of identifying militia members and recovering the weapons reportedly issued to them by these governors or their agents.
We equally want to call Ortom’s paid protesters to order. We are aware of the roles being played by Bring back Our Girls group and we find it appalling that a situation as ugly as the one unfolding in Benue state is the new meal ticket for BBOG leadership. Nigerians will like to know Oby (Ezekwesili) has received from her international partners to open her new business Centre. We challenge her to an accountability press briefing to tell Nigerians and her donors how much has so far been received from foreign agencies as grants for the kidnapped Chibok girls to warrant sourcing funds from her new venture.
What we are hearing is that these grants and loans, sourced from international agencies, have been largely squandered to support Oby’s lifestyle and providing pocket money for her collaborators.
Our charge to citizens of the world, private and corporate, is deal with Oby and her group as persons who are only interested in making money from crisis. The demands by several well-meaning persons and organization that she should account for monies disbursed to her should not be treated with levity.