Diverse professionals of Tiv extraction under the auspices of the Tiv Professional Group (TPG) have berated President Muhammadu Buhari over his failure to tame the insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and other states.
The TPG in a statement said President Muhammadu Buhari has failed Nigeria and also failed to live the tenants of the oath he swore to as a president which is protecting lives and properties.
The TPG in a press statement made available to our correspondent also said President’s penchant for blaming Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue State over the insecurity in that state is ‘playing the ostrich’ and ‘playing to the gallery.’
Find below the full text of their press briefing.
President Buhari’s Benue Record: Matters Arising
By Tiv Professionals Group(TPG)
On 19th April, Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity) gave a summary of President Buhari’s Benue Record in a State House Press Release- claiming that the record speaks for itself. Garba Shehu challenged the people of Benue State to speak for themselves. We have taken Garba Shehu’s challenge seriously and are urging all citizens of Nigeria and Benue State to rise and participate in the conversation of President Buhari’s Benue Record and his Nigerian Record especially on Security.
2. It is important to note from the start that Garba Shehu is not only a very rude presidential underling without honour nor character but also a poor student of historiography. If not rudeness, lack of honour and character, why would Garba Shehu refer to Governor Samuel Ortom as former Governor of Benue State when he remains Governor until May 29th 2023? More than this, Garba Shehu is cunning, mischievous and divisive. He divides the people of the Sate by electing to rewrite a very skewed narrative of our recent history spiced with blatant lies and silences. Because he disagrees with Daily Trust on a ‘single paragraph’ in the ‘Ortom Chapter’, the Benue citizens he and the Presidency have been demonizing have become ‘well informed compatriots’ for ‘resoundingly’ kicking out Ortom and his so called People’s Democratic Party.
3. For the sake of our history and what President Buhari has done to us, we want to rebut Garba Shehus’s narrative verse by verse:
The in-person meetings President Buhari had with Governor Samuel Ortom and other community leaders in the State which Garba Shehu refers to, show President Buhari as a heartless and deceitful Fulani jingoist. In May 2018, when President Buhari had one such meeting with Benue leaders, he assured them of ‘the Federal Government’s commitment to protecting farmers and communities’ as averred by Garba Shehu BUT President Buhari NEVER made good this guarantee. More importantly, at this meeting, he charged the Police, Directorate of State Security and other security agencies to ensure that perpetrators of the Benue killings face the full wrath of the law. No single person has been brought before the law for these killings though umbrella Fulani organizations have claimed responsibility for these killings and have continued their bloody intransigence. It is also in this meeting that President Buhari admonished Benue leaders to return to the State and learn to live with their neighbors even though Fulani herdsmen who have been singled out as responsible for these killings share no boundary with any Benue community and many of them are known to be FOREIGNERS.
In truth, the Federal Government established joint security operations in the State to tackle the menace of killer herdsmen. It is however doubtful whether these operations were well funded and it is certainly NOT correct to throw up the FAILURE of these operations in the State as a result of Governor Ortom’s ‘fake news and disinformation campaigns’. Federal joint security operations are NOT coordinated by Governors. They are coordinated from the centre and a Commander in Chief worth his salt will take firm responsibility for their success or failure. We are aware that in May 2018, President Buhari expressed surprise that his presidential order to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on the Benue killings was floated. Of course, nothing happened to this IGP who had taken the position that the Benue killings were as a result of a communal clash and it was safer to sleep in Lafia than in Makurdi. All the array of military hardware, Special Forces units, tactical operations units and aerial surveillance teams have NOT helped. Killer herdsmen from within and outside the country are still killing farmers in their sleep and on their ancestral lands as well as in IDP camps where they are living in deplorable conditions!!!.
That Garba Shehu would make the point of Governor Samuel Ortom ‘routinely’ ignoring ‘timely and actionable intelligence’ on the Benue killings shows how warped his understanding of the President’s constitutional responsibility to protect citizens of the country is. If the President is credited to have deployed joint security operations to Benue State, deployed special forces including the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, Police , the Department of State Services and other security services, why would ‘timely and actionable intelligence’ be given to a Governor who has no command status? Why would such intelligence NOT go to the command structure of the joint security operations?
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended Section 14(2)(b) vests the security and welfare of citizens in the hands of the Federal Government. This is the primary purpose of Government at that level. Our position is that President Buhari has FAILED Benue people in this regard. He has opened, Nigerian borders to the Fulani of the whole world to enter and choke Benue State and other parts of the country killing and displacing citizens from their ancestral lands. Nasir El Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State was the first ranking Fulani leader to betray the foreign Fulani hand in the indiscriminate killings in Nigeria. In April 2021, he confessed that public funds were used by his Government to pay killer Fulani herdsmen of the sub region to stop the incessant killings in Southern Kaduna. In September 2018, Bala Mohammed, the Governor of Bauchi State claimed the Fulani is a ‘global citizen’ and must benefit from the National Livestock Transformation Plan whether he is from Chad, Niger or other neighboring country. He made the claim that wherever the Fulani man moves, his NATIONALITY is Fulani and that he is justified to carry an assault weapon.
It is also NOT correct to argue that the Federal Government under President Buhari has given prompt humanitarian support ‘via the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development’. This is far from the truth!!. Benue internally displaced persons(IDPs) have been living under deplorable conditions in the past 10 or so years. The Buhari Government has refused to recognize Fulani killer herdsmen as a national security threat even though their terror tactics are felt across the country and Fulani herdsmen in 2015 were listed as the fourth most deadly terror group in the world by the Global Terror Index. We also know that with all the killings, displacement and humanitarian suffering in Benue State, Benue is NOT in the Humanitarian Response Plan of Buhari’s Federal Government. This is because of President Buhari’s ‘war’ with Governor Samuel Ortom. President Buhari has taken this ‘war’ so personal that he reneged on a promise Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo made before IDPs at the Abagana camp in 2018. No one remembers this promise. The last time the Federal Government attempt to bring relief material to the Benue IDP cam, they brought rotten rice. When the Federal Government attempted to do an audit/survey of destruction and needs of the IDPs in the State, the report was put aside.
We are of the opinion that Governor Samuel Ortom even if ‘disgraced’ in the words of Garba Shehu did NOT politicize our tragedy. He stood up to Fulani antics and opposed the ‘conquest’, annexure and occupation of our ancestral lands. President Buhari acquiesced and supported his kinsmen. Governor Samuel Ortom even though ‘disgraced’ remains our hero on this matter and let it be known that ANY Governor of Benue State who ever refuses to stand up to the Fulani of the whole world on this matter would be counted as a ‘useful idiot’ and a traitor. We are sure Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, the incoming Governor of Benue State will NOT want to be on the wrong end of the stick. He will NOT.
Garba Shehu also thinks, Nasarawa, Taraba and the FCT have enjoyed peace. He is mistaken. Very badly. Nasarawa has NOT enjoyed peace unless his idea of peace is the wanton killings of the Tiv of Nasarawa State, their displacement and the seizure and occupation of their ancestral lands by foreign Fulani in Doma, Awe , Obi and Keana with the full support of the Nasarawa State Government. Taraba has also been far from peaceful coexistence with armed Fulani on rampage. Same for the FCT. In any case, if Benue has not known peace and Governor Samuel Ortom is responsible for this, who is responsible for the lack of peace in the North-East and in States like Plateau, Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi? Is Governor Samuel Ortom also responsible for the insecurity in States of Southern Nigeria where the Fulani herdsmen have already been implicated?
4. The people of Benue know who is to blame for the killings in the State. It is Fulani herdsmen supported by ranking Fulani politicians, chiefs and technocrats. We are aware of Tabital Puluuaku and umbrella Fulani bodies that have at various times claimed responsibility for the killings in Benue State. Some of these bodies have also rejected the Anti –Open Grazing Law and vowed to spill blood if its not repealed. They have kept their vows until this moment.
5. President Buhari’s Benue record is despicable and blameworthy. Never in the history of Nigeria has a President been so petty and bent on dividing the country along ethnic lines. As students of Nigerian history, we remember the Fulani factor in the destruction of Yandoto in present day Zamfara and are not surprised that President Buhari would want to destroy modern Nigeria for the Fulani of the whole world. Nigerians MUST know that ALL Fulani attacks on Benue communities have been on Benue soil. Community members have been attacked in their sleep and on their farms. They have been killed in their thousands including old men, women and children. Whole communities have been destroyed and millions are in IDP camps and in other places taking refuge without support for close to a decade. Fulani herdsmen currently occupy their ancestral lands. Another Presidential spokesman, Femi Adeshina gave us a choice. To choose between our lives and our ancestral lands.!!! This is the Buhari presidency and what it has done to Benue.
Tiv Professionals Group(TPG)