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Benue Governor Ortom Explains Federal Support Denial Over Anti-Grazing Stance

Makurdi, June 9, 2024 – Samuel Ortom, the immediate past governor of Benue State, has revealed that his administration was denied essential federal interventions due to his firm stance against armed herders invading the state.

Ortom, who served as governor from 2015 to 2023, was known for his vocal opposition to the activities of armed herders in Benue. He enacted an anti-open grazing law to tackle this issue. According to Ortom, his refusal to back down against these threats led to the denial of necessary federal support.

In a statement titled “Those Unfortunate Statements on Insecurity in Benue,” issued by his media aide Terver Akase, Ortom responded to accusations from his successor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, who claimed Ortom was complicit in the state’s insecurity. Alia had suggested that Ortom incited violence and benefitted from the ensuing chaos.

Alia stated in an interview, “There is no need for you to cry wolf when you are complicit in the violence. Inciting the youth and allowing cattle rustling only leads to reprisals and loss of lives. Ortom cashed in on the violence, benefiting politically while people were buried every day.”

Ortom refuted these allegations, calling them unfounded. He highlighted that he was the first governor in Nigeria to enact a law banning open grazing and promoting ranching as a sustainable practice. He asserted that during his tenure, Benue youths never engaged in cattle rustling or violence against their own people.

Ortom’s statement emphasized, “These allegations are disturbing and without proof. Benue people are known for their hospitality and peace. As governor, I took bold steps to confront armed herdsmen attacks, which predated my administration. I enacted laws to end open grazing and introduced ranching.”

Ortom also highlighted his efforts to involve Benue youths positively. His administration established the Livestock Guards to enforce the anti-open grazing law and engaged young people in the state’s Community Volunteer Guards to support security agencies.

The former governor further clarified that he never requested federal funds for the state’s security situation. Instead, he made significant sacrifices, putting his political career on hold to prevent enemies from taking over Benue. He claimed this stance led to the state being denied various entitlements, including funds from bonds, stamp duty, and other legitimate sources.

Ortom noted, “During my tenure, the state was denied several financial entitlements, including funds from bonds, stamp duty, SURE-P, and signature bonuses. These funds have now been released to the current administration. I urge my successor to account for how these funds have been spent, including Benue’s share of the N50 billion that President Bola Tinubu released to five northern states affected by insecurity.”

Ortom’s revelations shed light on the challenges he faced during his tenure and raise questions about the current administration’s use of funds meant to address insecurity in the state.

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