From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Thousands of women under the agies of Concerned Benue Mothers on Wednesday morning staged a peaceful walk around the streets of Makurdi to protest over what they described as federal government’s attacks on the state governor, Samuel Ortom.
The women all dressed in black, who bore leaves and placards with various inscriptions started their peaceful protest from the popular JS Tarka Foundation and walked all the way to the Government House.
Tagged “5,000 match in support of Governor Samuel Ortom,” the women who were led by a former House of Representatives member, Mrs. Rebecca Apedzan declared their unalloyed support for the governor in his struggle to stop the killing of his people by armed herdsmen.
The statement which was read by another elder-stateswoman, Hannatu Ullam, lamented that suspected fulani armed militia have been killing their children, husbands, mothers and sack the people from their ancenstral homes.
The women who defied the scorching sun and trooped out in large number also called on the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume to apologise to people of the state for his utterances against the Governor and for calling for the declaration of state of emergency in the state.
“We are all aware how our state Governor, Samuel Ortom has been consistent, raising alarm over the sustained killings of innocent Benue citizens by the Fulani herdsmen.
“These Fulani armed militia not only kill our children, husbands, mothers and sack them from their ancestral homes but also rape our daughters and mothers.
“Governor Ortom who has been in the forefront, seeking that the Federal government takes decisive action and end this grave insecurity challenge has rather come under attack by no other person but Senator George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.
“As mothers, we are shocked that Senator Akume and his group chose the ignominious path to close their eyes against the pains visited on the people of Benue state by Fulani killer herdsmen. They rather preferred to take sides with a President that has not shown any form of concern at the attacks and killings perpetrated by his kinsmen against the law abiding people of our dear state.
“It is too early in the day for any discerning Benue son or daughter to forget President Buhari’s counsel that we should learn to live with our (killer) neighbours.
“It is surprising that Senator Akume who has benefited so much from Benue State will turn around to seek to destroy it for his selfish reasons. This is someone who was elected Governor for eight years and Senator for twelve years. Now he wants to destroy the same democratic structures that brought him into prominence.
“It is sad that Akume and his cohorts seek to trample on the pride of Benue to sing praises of a president and an administration that has failed to secure the lives of Benue people. We make bold to say that Akume’s outing was shameful and smacks of subservience, just to satisfy his masters who have no regards for the lives of the people of our great state.
“We are therefore calling on Senator Akume to make haste to tender an unreserved apology to the peace-loving people of Benue and His Excellency, Governor Ortom in order to avoid the wrath of the gods of the land.
“As a former governor, he should be in the forefront speaking against the mindless shedding of blood by herdsmen and not seen to be promoting hate on our governor for speaking truth to power simply because of political differences,” the statement read in part.
Governor Samuel Ortom while addressing the Benue women said he would continue to remain committed to the course of ensuring peace in the state.
“I remain committed to Benue people. Whatever you want me to do, I will do. Nobody will intimidate me. The prohibition of open grazing has come to stay. Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, you are free to operate here in Benue State as long as you operate in accordance with the law.
“There is no open grazing, RUGA, cattle colonies, no cattle routes, 180 settlement farms in Benue State.
” I am greatful to all of you for always standing with me. Those people who criticize me, including our honorable minister, let them tell you what I have said that is wrong,” Ortom said.