The Northern Governors Forum has condemned the Saturday’s attack on the convoy of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, demanding that the incident be thoroughly investigated.
The forum said all hands must be on deck to address the lingering degeneration of security in Nigeria as it threatened her corporate existence.
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The chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in a statement by his spokesman, Makut Macham, said the attack was another attempt by criminals to cause mayhem in Benue and in the nation as a whole.
Ortom’s convoy was attacked at Tyomu village, along the Makurdi-Gboko road, but the governor escaped unhurt.
Lalong charged all relevant security agencies to conduct a thorough investigation to fish out those behind the attack and their sponsors.
He commended security details attached to the governor for repelling the attack and securing Ortom and members of his entourage.
He said northern governors were in solidarity with Ortom and the entire people of Benue State.
He assured that they would continue to engage and support security agencies in their duty of securing the region and nation.
“An attempt to make Benue ungovernable”
Similarly, the Nigeria Governors Forum on Sunday condemned the attack on Ortom’s convoy, describing it as an attempt to make Benue ungovernable.
The governor of Ekiti State and chairman of the NGF, Kayode Fayemi, in a statement yesterday said: “the attempt to make Benue State ungovernable is unacceptable and will fail woefully.”
He said all hands must be on deck to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of the crime.
Fayemi stated: “The news of the broad daylight attempt to cut short the life of the Governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, is shocking and a rude awakening.
“The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) empathizes with the governor and the people of Benue State on this sad, cowardly, and wicked plan and vehemently condemns the act in its entirety.
“Only recently, the 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.
“The NGF as a platform for all the 36 governors will continue to encourage its members to stand firm in the service of their people regardless of the evil machinations of those who do not wish Nigeria well. Evil will not be allowed to triumph over good, not in Benue and not anywhere in this country.
“While all governors will continue to pray for Governor Ortom, the NGF wishes to draw the attention of all evil doers that not only will they continue to fail in their wicked acts, but they will also definitely be traced and punished for their crimes, no matter how long it takes”.
IG deploys special investigators to Benue, orders security beef-up around Ortom
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered full-scale investigations into the circumstances surrounding the attack and reported attempt on Ortom’s life.
The Force spokesman, Frank Mba, in a statement on Sunday said the IG condemned the incident and directed the Commissioner of Police in charge of Benue to strengthen and improve security in the state, particularly around the governor.
He said the IG had also 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.
According to him, to ensure a speedy, thorough and conclusive investigations into the matter, the IG has ordered the immediate deployment of a team of specialized investigators from the Force Criminal Investigations Department in order to provide additional investigative support to the Police Command in Benue.
Mba called for calm and pledged the commitment of the Force to continue to do its best in stabilising the security situation in the country.
APC warns against politicizing crime
The All Progressives Congress says a crime is a crime and should not be politicized in any way.
It condemned the attack on Governor Ortom’s convoy and asked security agencies to fish out perpetrators of the crime and bring them to book.
Secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, John Akpanudoedehe, in a statement said: “We thank God for his safety and praise the dutiful security details for repelling the attack.”
“We’re confident our security services will do everything to unravel the criminals behind the attack and bring them to book.
“The APC reiterates that we must all collaborate to end criminality in all forms.”
Citizens may resort to self-help over insecurity, Mark warns
Also, former Senate President David Mark urged the security agencies to step up to the challenges of securing lives and property to avoid the consequences of a resort to self-help.
Mark, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Mumeh, condemned the attack on the convoy of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom.
He said the deteriorating security situation had become scandalous making Nigeria a subject of ridicule before other nations.
He said: “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’m worried that the situation may compel citizens to resort to self-help.
“That’s the situation we cannot contemplate and must not be allowed to happen because the consequences would be catastrophic.”
He urged the federal government and the security agencies to “come to terms with the painful reality of the unabating insecurity in the land and resolve to end it.”
Self-help, an invitation to anarchy-PDP govs
Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum says resorting to self-help in lieu of the current security challenges in Nigeria is an invitation to anarchy.
The forum’s chairman, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, in a statement, said the forum believed strongly that any dispute or perceived dispute must be resolved amicably without resort to violence.
“Nigeria is not a Banana Republic, even though certain retrogressive elements and centrifugal forces are trying to consign Nigeria into a failed state.
“Nobody or group however highly placed should take the laws into their hands, even though some highly placed Federal government ministers seem to have surrendered to the nefarious activities of miscreants and mischief-makers bent on destabilising the nation. Self-help is an invitation to anarchy and must be nipped in the bud”.
How gunmen attacked Ortom – Aide, CP
The Principal Special Assistant on Special Duties to Governor Ortom, Abrahams Kwaghngu, has narrated how gunmen attacked the convoy of his Boss on Saturday thus: “The governor and myself along with few security details parked our vehicles by the highway and walked for about two kilometers to his farm where he attended to his farm by the river bank and it was on our way back to our vehicles that suddenly, we ran into an ambush mounted by well-armed suspected Fulani militia all dressed in black who opened fire on us.
“His Excellency and I had to run through the rough terrain for about a kilometer and a half, at times crawling to avoid the showers of bullets fired at us by the gunmen. Thank God for the gallantry, proactiveness and courage demonstrated by the nine security details who were with the governor who immediately responded with fire to provide cover for us.
“The governor probably was the target for this evil assassination attempt by strange gunmen. By divine providence, Governor Ortom, myself and the security details escaped the ambush and safely made our way back to the governor’s lodge.”
Benue State Commissioner of Police, Audu Madaki, in a statement by the spokesman of the command, Catherine Anene, narrated: “Saturday 20th March, 2021 at about 1200hrs a distress call was received from one of the police officers deployed as escort to the governor of Benue State, His Excellency, Samuel Ortom that while on escort duty with the governor to his farm located at Abua Village, Gboko road, Makurdi, some armed men numbering about 15 came out from the bush and started shooting sporadically at His Excellency’s entourage.
“He stated further that they were able to repel the attackers and secure the Governor back to Benue Peoples House, Makurdi unhurt.
“Upon receipt of this information, a team of police officers was detailed to the scene to prevent further breakdown of law and order and on the spot assessment of the crime scene.”
By Saawua Terzungwe, Abdullateef Salau, Idowu Isamotu (Abuja), Dickson Adama (Jos) & Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi)