Friday Olokor, John Charles, Dennis Naku and Raphael Ede
27 August 2021
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￼Sokoto and President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, on Thursday, advised the Federal Government to sit up and urgently address the rising insecurity in the country.
While the Sultan spoke in Abuja at the third quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Interreligious Council, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, gave a similar warning in a statement by his media aide, Terver Akase.
The monarch and the governor’s warning came two days after gunmen attacked the Nigerian Defence Academy and abducted a military officer after killing two others.
Ortom, while reacting to an attack on him by the Presidency, warned that with the rate that insecurity was increasing in the country, bandits and killer herdsmen might one day take over the Aso Rock Villa without any resistance.
The governor warned that danger was looming with the way the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was handling the security situation in the country.
Ortom, had in an interview with Channels Television a few days ago accused the President of trying to “Fulanise” the country.
He said this while reacting to Buhari’s approval of the recommendations of a committee to review 368 grazing reserves across 25 states in the country.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Wednesday, accused Ortom of using sectarian language similar to that which caused the Rwandan genocide.
On Thursday, the governor, through his media aide, Akase, said Nigerians might wake up one day to find out that armed herders, bandits and other terrorists had taken over Aso Rock Villa without any resistance and the current occupants would flee the country.
Ortom described the statement by the Presidency against him as a reflection of the quality of its thinking.
“The tone of the said statement shows the quality of the Presidency Nigeria currently has. They abandoned the message and went for the messenger,” the governor was quoted as saying.
He said that the Presidency should focus on ending the killing of innocent Nigerians, fix the economy as it promised and stop the stinking corruption under its watch.
The statement said, “They can’t run away from their responsibility. They were brought to power to serve the country and not to oppress the people and suppress their freedom of speech.
“They are on record to have publicly promised during their campaigns before the 2015 elections that they would respect the rights and freedoms of Nigerians if elected. Sadly, what the people of this country have got from the current government is the opposite of that promise.
“The agenda of the present administration is to Islamise and Fulanise the nation like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof Kunle Olawunmi and other patriotic Nigerians have rightly said.
“Governor Ortom urges the good people of this country to caution the Presidency before it destroys Nigeria. If nothing is done fast to avert the impending disaster, armed herders, bandits and other terrorists will one day take over Aso Rock Villa and those occupying the Villa at the moment will willingly surrender to them and flee the country.
“No day passes without reports of herdsmen and other terrorists killing defenceless Nigerians in parts of the country. The number of displaced people has risen to millions, yet, the Presidency wants everyone to remain silent while the country burns.”
While promising that he would continue to talk, the governor’s aide said, “Let it be on record that while the Presidency deliberately destroyed Nigeria, someone spoke against the evil.
“Governor Ortom stands by his words that this is not the first time a Fulani man is President of Nigeria, and also that it is the first time the country has been divided on ethnic lines with lopsided appointments in promotion and celebration of nepotism, marginalisation and open repugnance of other Nigerians.
“At no time in the history of this country have impunity, blatant disregard for laws, sectarian as well as ethnic differences been fuelled by the government as we now see.”
He said for the Presidency to have called him “undistinguished” despite his career at the state and national levels, showed that the piece was written under the influence of some negative substances.
“For the information of Garba Shehu and his cohorts, Governor Ortom rose to become a local government chairman, state Publicity Secretary of National Centre Party of Nigeria; state Treasurer of the All People’s Party; state Secretary as well as state Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party; National Auditor of the PDP; minister of the Federal Republic and now a two-term governor,” the statement added.
Security agencies not proactive – Sultan
The Sultan of Sokoto, on his part, called on the Federal Government to identify and deal decisively with those inciting individuals and groups against the peace and security of the country.
According to him, where comments by leaders constitute an imminent threat to security of lives and property, such individuals must be arrested and prosecuted.
He issued the warning against the backdrop of a viral video by a popular Islamic cleric in Zaria, who vowed that there would be reprisals over the recent killing of 22 travellers in Jos, Plateau State, along ethnic and religious lines.
“What are our security agencies doing that they cannot invite those making these videos and saying nasty and bad things that raise tensions higher? Nobody should be above the law, whether you are a Christian or Muslim. You cannot incite people to kill innocent people,” the monarch said.
While lamenting the level of insecurity in the land, Abubakar said it had become a worrisome situation that the security agencies were unable to demystify the so-called “unknown gunmen,” who raid communities and institutions, kill unarmed citizens and abduct scores of people unchallenged.
He said, “How can people, who do these things, be unknown? Where are our intelligence agencies? Don’t we have a proactive intelligence agency that will think ahead of the bandits?
“In eastern Sokoto alone, there was a day we buried 76 persons, who were killed in cold blood by criminals who came from ‘nowhere’. There was another day we buried 48 persons in the same Sokoto, but you didn’t hear about it.
“All the people committing such atrocities must be identified. The security agencies must up their game, find them and take action on this kind of carnage. If we start doing so, all this carnage we see in this country will stop.”
The Sultan called on the President to convene and chair a national dialogue on the challenges facing the country with a view to designing lasting ways to solve them.
He stated, “What is so difficult in the Presidency leading a national dialogue? Why are we afraid of talking to one another in a dialogue? What dialogue cannot solve, violence cannot solve it either.
“So, I think it’s high time we put aside ethnic and religious sentiments and told ourselves the truth that what is happening in this country is not right. This is the way we should go if we really want to have a country. The President should lead the way in this.”
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Samson Ayokunle, condemned the violence in Plateau State, saying that a situation where crimes were painted in religious, ethnic or political colours rather than condemnation was a source of concern to many Nigerians.
Ayokunle, who co-chairs the NIREC with the Sultan, emphasized that criminals had found it easier to shield themselves with ethnic and religious cover to escape or be emboldened to commit more crimes.
“Nigerians are worried about the state we are in. It is extremely frightening. It is time for us to unanimously condemn this criminality without any sentiment,” he stressed.
The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, said those who spread inciting messages, which fanned toxic ideas that sparked the recent crisis in Jos and its environs, were people outside the state.
“The past few weeks in Plateau have been very challenging as we have witnessed a resurgence of attacks on innocent citizens, leading to the loss of many lives and destruction of properties,” he said.
Ohanaeze condemns Presidency’s attack on Ortom
Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Thursday, condemned the attack on Ortom by the Presidency.
The group’s spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, said Ohanaeze Ndigbo did not believe that Buhari authorised the remark of his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Garba Shehu.
He stated, “Ohanaeze’s position is that every religion recognises the golden rule, which is, do to others as you wish others to do unto you. It is difficult to see your people dying on a daily basis like what is happening in Benue and Plateau states without a reaction and without responding like Ortom is doing.
“There is no governor who will see his people dying in droves and will be happy. So, as a matter of fact, I sympathise with Ortom, Simon Lalong and other governors of states that are facing this violence from non-state actors. It is very painful.”
Ogbonnia stated that it was unfortunate that lives in Nigeria had become so cheap under the current regime, adding, “We are no longer keeping account of the number of Nigerians killed on a daily basis. So, the government should sit up and do something before it is too late. What is happening in Nigeria is a sign of a failed state.”
Presidency attack on Ortom, shameless, shadow-chasing, says PANDEF
Also, the Pan Niger Delta Forum said the attack on the Benue State governor by the Presidency was shameless and a tradition of chasing shadows.
The National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday.
Robinson said Ortom must be commended for his courage and for always standing for the truth despite obvious intimidation by the powers that be, describing those against him as shameless.
“That is the tradition of the Presidency. That is their style to leave the substance and chase shadows. That is why we are where we are as a country, where gunmen will go into a military formation and abduct and kill military officers, who are serving this nation,” the PANDEF spokesman added