At a hearing of the Senate ad hoc committee on security infrastructure, the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, brought copies of the letters he wrote at different times to Pres. Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Police Inspector General Ibrahim Idris, among others, intimating them of planned attacks on Benue residents by herdsmen.
Despite all the letters written by the governor, his concerns were ignored until the attacks were carried out, resulting in the deaths of over 70 Benue citizens.
Here is what Ortom recounted to the committee led by Senate majority leader, Ahmed Lawan:
– When he first got wind of the planned attacks, he wrote to the then acting president Yemi Osinbajo. “We wrote to the Vice President on the planned attack on parts of Benue by Fulani herdsmen, because the word was everywhere on the street, but he refused to reply,” Ortom said.
– With no response from Osinbajo, and with the return of Pres. Muhammadu Buhari to the country, Ortom wrote directly to the president. “And when there was no response, and when Mr. President came back, I personally went and intimated him, and also wrote,” he said.
“The documents are here, I will hand them over to you. I wrote to him on the planned attack by Fulani herdsmen because these threats were on the streets.
“I intimated Mr. President and it was put into writing.”
– On the same day he wrote to the president, Ortom also wrote to the police inspector-general, Ibrahim Idris, the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, and the DG of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, drawing their attention to the potential attack.
– Ortom wrote yet another letter to the president and copied the national security adviser on the 17th of October, just ten days after the first letter.
– The governor wrote again to IGP Idris and heads of other security agencies on October 27, 2017.
“I reminded him that these people are planning to attack us, we are law abiding, we have disarmed our youths, and we are looking onto security agencies.
“And the way to do it is to arrest those people who were inciting the herdsmen to combat us, and we knew they were going to come.
“These people were all over the place; on television, in papers, doing various press conferences, and they eventually took us to court. But we felt that it is a crime for anyone to incite people against us with the purpose of killing or causing harm, destruction. So we expected them (security agencies) to act, but there was no action.”
– The governor also wrote to the Senate president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives for information purposes.
“There was no response. Of course, the National Security Adviser invited us for a meeting two times but it was put off.”
Ortom’s presentation raises lots of questions on why he was ignored by the presidency and the heads of security agencies. The lackadaisical attitude to the situation has continued even following the killings as the presidency has not seemed it fit to visit Benue state to condole with the people of the state over the gruesome killings.