Social critic and former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, has accused the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, of not doing enough to curb the menace of Fulani herdsmen in the state.
Tsav, in a press statement made available to Nigerian Pilot in Makurdi, yesterday, expressed worry over the recent attack by cattle herders in Agwabi, Buruku Local Government Area, stressing that “this is one attack too many.”
But Ortom, who reacted to the incident, admitted that his government is helpless and cannot contain the activities of herdsmen who he said were killing, maiming and raping women in Benue villages.
He lamented that the state is under the siege of Fulani herdsmen, warning that the people may resort to self help if nothing is done to curtail their excesses.
“We are being pressed to the wall and this is not right. I have been restraining my people that two wrongs do not make a right. Should I also allow my people to take arms against these people? Is that the right thing to do? But we are being pushed to the wall and it is beyond imagination that this mayhem will continue. We have contacted the army and the presidency yet nothing is happening to these people.
‘‘These wicked mercenaries wearing the name of herdsmen are out to destroy Benue and the worst thing is that they attack people, destroy their property and kill them. This is beyond the state. The president has given a directive, the army and police must come out and get these people arrested.
“I have told my people not to take up arms against these people, but there is a limit to how I can appeal to my people to refrain themselves. If all of them are killed, then I will be the next target. That is the truth. If not, how can every single day, you hear about killings?
“Let us also hear that the police have apprehended them or that soldiers have killed them. Why is it that these people are above the law? How can they be in this country and no policeman is arresting them, no one is killing them? The military is there, the soldiers are there. So, something needs to be done. I think we need additional troops.”
However, Tsav alleged that it is the activities of one Alhaji Aliyu Tesheku, Ortom’s aide, who had confessed to be a member of Boko Haram that is encouraging the conflict.
Tesheku, who is the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ortom on Security and is also the Chairman, Civil Joint Task Force, according to Tsav, collects money and cows from Fulani herders in order to provide them with grazing lands.
“As Chairman of the Civil Joint Task Force, Alhaji Aliyu Tesheku and his team are expected to be in the bush always to checkmate herdsmen and stop them from this senseless killings and destruction of farm crops. Surely, if he is performing his job honestly and with patriotism, there would be peace and tranquility between the Tivs and Fulani herdsmen in Benue State. He is said to be Ortom’s brother from Nongov which gives him the license to act with impunity and thus cause conflict between the Fulanis and farmers.”
He advised Ortom to stop dancing to the tune of his appointees, particularly those alleged to have questionable characters.
The governor revealed that the death toll in last Friday night’s attack on Tarfi village, Binnev Ward in Buruku Local Government Area had risen to over 60.
Ortom, who wept openly, lamented that the state is under siege and that after committing the atrocities, the herders sacked the locals from their abode and occupied the ‘captured territory’.
He said he had continually restrained the people from carrying out reprisal attacks on the marauders, but cautioned that they might resort to self help if security agencies cannot prevent the massacre of innocent farmers.
“It is a bad situation, everyday you hear how my people are being killed, raped and maimed by these mercenaries. They do not have respect for the rule of law or security personnel. The situation has gotten to a point where if we contain the crisis in one community, they move quickly to another to massacre the people just like the Buruku case where over 60 innocent persons were killed.
“These are wicked mercenaries under the guise of herdsmen attacking us and taking over our farmlands. I have said it several times that we do not have land for grazing in the state, let them move out of the state if they cannot respect the rule of law and the sanctity of human lives.
“There is a limit to which I can appeal to my people to restrain themselves from reprisal attacks, if all of them are killed then I might be the next target. I will have to represent the matter to the president because we are helpless and if nothing urgent is done we might have a major crisis in our hands.”

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