Ortom, Alia and Benue Insecurity

By Aare Abiodun Oluwarotimi

On assuming duties as governor of Benue state in 2015, Chief Samuel Ortom PhD did one important thing, and that was to ensure the safety of lives and properties of the people of the state.

Ortom came as governor at a time the security condition of the Northern parts of Nigeria was very bad. His state was almost the worst in term of insecurity at the time he assumed duties as governor.

Recall that Ortom’s predecessor, Senator Gabriel Torwua Suswam PhD was up and doing to stop insecurity especially from Fulani Herdsmen when he was governor.

As a result of his stand against insecurity in Benue state, Dr. Suswam almost lost his life in March, 2014 when Fulani herdsmen opened fire on his convoy.

Back to Ortom’s administration, insecurity became very bad to the extents that the introduction of Anti Open Grazing Bill took place.

The Bill was passed into law in 2017 and this put the former governor (Ortom) in the bad book of the then federal government led by Muhammadu Buhari.

The more Ortom made efforts to stop insecurity and Fulani herdsmen killings in Benue state the more the hatred he got from Buhari and the federal government.

Cattle Colony: Cattle Colony was about to be established in Nigeria but Chief Ortom raised his voice against it. It was put aside.

Ortom was on top of his voice everyday, enlightening Nigerians that Cattle Colony was a plot by Fulani herdsmen to take over the lands that belongs to state governments. He stood against it and made it known that such wouldn’t happen in Benue state under his watch.

Ortom was targeted for elimination. His second term ambition was threatened. He was attacked in his farm by Fulani herdsmen who attempted to kill him but failed. His erstwhile political godfather, Senator George Akume didn’t leave his neck. Efforts were made from Abuja to distabilize his administration but Ortom stood his ground that Fulani wouldn’t be allowed to take over Benue lands. This was the reason he was nicknamed “The Defender of Benue Valley”.

At a time, Chief Samuel Ortom was blocked from having access to Muhammadu Buhari because he had been tagged the greatest enemy of the former president.

The federal government under Buhari sponsored several court cases where bank accounts belonging to the Benue state government were frozen severally for no reason other than the fact that the former governor was being punished for standing against insecurity caused by Fulani herdsmen.

Some of the loans which the state government applied for were blocked by the federal government while protests from youths and fake civil servants were sponsored by the same federal government against Samuel Ortom because of his stand against Fulani killings in the state and Nigeria as a whole.

Alia and affiliation with Fulani: In the build up to the general elections, several allegations were made against Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia who was the APC governorship candidate then. He was accused of taking huge funds from the Fulani herdsmen association for his election with a promise to cede Benue’s lands to them on assuming duties as governor of Benue state.

Alia was accused of holding several meetings with leaders of the Fulani herdsmen association where he made promises to give them a free hand to operate in the state if they could back him to win the election. He denied it though.

Alia won and since he assumed duties, insecurity has become very bad in Benue state to the extents that people are being killed in their tens and hundreds everyday.

Just last week, Governor Hyacinth Alia agreed that his state should be listed among the states where the federal government will be establishing cattle colony. Other states that agreed to be part of the cattle Colony are Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger.

Although, Benue state government will benefit billions of naira from the federal government for allowing cattle Colony, the implication is that insecurity will persist while Benue’s land will be taken by Fulani herders.

Analysts who have spoken on this development blamed Alia for allowing cattle Colony in Benue state.

Some of them critizised Alia for accepting what Chief Samuel Ortom rejected for peace to reign in Benue state.

Aare Abiodun Oluwarotimi, De Oracular Oracle that eats Jollof Rice in the shrine writes form the forest

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