After more than 70 Benue residents were killed by Fulanis herdsmen this month, the governor of the neighboring Plateau state, Simon Lalong, said the killings were due to an anti-grazing law passed by his Benue counterpart, Samuel Ortom.
According to Lalong, he warned Ortom against passing the law. His statement was interpreted as an effort to justify the killings by the herdsmen.
Ortom has since come forward to dispute Lalong’s claim and even attempted putting a phone call through to the Plateau governor which – he said – was declined.
Now, Lalong says he has realised the error in his utterance. Over the weekend, he apologized to the people of Benue state and Nigerians for his comments.
– “Let me use this opportunity to extend my deepest sympathies and extend our condolences to the people of Benue State over this great loss. My prayer is that God will continue to give them and every Nigerian the fortitude to bear the loss.”
– “I must say that I humbly apologise for my comments because I have seen that it was really misconceived and misinterpreted. That generated a lot of social media writeup here and there about the issue. I apologise for that because neither the argument for or against helps the matter because it involves lives.”
– “I have great respect for the sanctity of human lives and the unity of the Middle Belt. I would not say Plateau is fighting Benue State at all. We are brothers and sisters. Benue was created out of Plateau. Nasarawa was created out of Plateau. We still remain brothers and sisters. So I extend my prayers to all of them and I pray that God Almighty will give them the fortitude to bear the loss and grant the souls of the departed eternal rest.”
– “This is to tell those who are for and against that there is need, especially at this time when lives are involved, for all of us to join hands to ensure that we work towards the resolution of the matter and helping in ensuring peace not only in Benue, but in Nigeria.”