Governor Ortom has been exonerated because one, they have not told us why they have arrested him or why he has been released without being charged to court.
Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Terver Akase, has said that Aliyu Tershaku should not blame the Benue State government for his woes, stressing that all the governor did was to allow the rule of law to take its course in the matter.
The former Coordinator, Benue State Livestock Guards, Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku who was arrested seven months ago by the military before his recent release, said that his arrest was masterminded by the state government. How true is this?
The state government had no hands in his arrest; Ortom is not the Commissioner of police or head of security agencies. When he (Tershaku) was arrested, the governor said he believed in the rule of law and anyone arrested has the right to go and defend himself. Remember that when he was arrested, they were accusing the state government of using him. In all of these, Governor Ortom has been vindicated. Up till now, the governor has not been told why he was arrested or why he was released. I think the Federal Government knows Tershaku more than the state government. So if he is saying that the state government masterminded his arrest, or picked him, can you see the contradiction? Same man whom you accused of being used by the government is saying that the government was not with him. So, in all of these, Governor Ortom has been exonerated because one, they have not told us why they have arrested him or why he has been released without being charged to court.
You arrested somebody, the person stayed with you for many months and you didn’t try him. Up until now, the governor has not been told why Tershaku was arrested and why he was released without being taken to court. When the president came to Benue, Tershaku spoke and he spoke in Hausa and those who understand Hausa said that Tershaku said many things including the fact that he worked closely with the national security adviser to the president. He said all these things there and even the IGP jokingly told the governor that Tershaku is his friend. I think they know him better and if anyone was to be blamed for his arrest, he should be looking at the side of the Federal Government.
But Tershaku insisted that there was no way he can be arrested for whatever reason without the governor consenting to it. He said that Ortom is the chief security officer of the state coupled with the fact that he (Tershaku) is the Special Assistant to the governor on special security. How about that?
Police do not inform the governor before they make arrest. There are many arrests that go on in town every day. Now, if they are to be informing the governor of every arrest they want to make, that means the governor would not do any other thing from morning till night. The police only brief the governor at the end of their activities. They don’t have to take permission before they make arrest. That is not the job of the chief security officer of the state. The job of the security officer is to support the police to do their job because he is not a professional policeman or a professional DSS officer. I think he should spare Governor Ortom of all these accusations because the governor is innocent of them. He didn’t tell the Police to arrest him (Tershaku), the Police are the one who suspect people in the society and they go ahead to arrest them. But let me tell you that Tershaku before he was arrested granted an interview in your paper which is on YouTube and he said that the governor had no hand in the killings in Benue, that the governor was not using the livestock guards contrary to people’s accusation.
So who armed him?
He said that the governor was not using livestock guards to cause trouble and he exonerated the governor and these interviews are there for people to go back to and read. If he exonerated the governor yesterday, he cannot come back today to accuse the same governor or his government of giving him a gun. The governor didn’t give him a gun and he didn’t buy a gun for him because the governor does not buy guns for people because that does not include the job of a governor. The governors do not buy for people and so it is wrong for him to accuse the governor of this. We also want to believe that this is not an extension of witch hunt by enemies of Benue who are desperately looking for a way to heap blames and accusations on Governor Ortom. Every little thing they look towards the governor. I hope this whole thing was not masterminded directly or remotely by enemies of Benue who have seen the governor as their own number one enemy. We want to believe that Tershaku was speaking his mind and if he wasn’t speaking his mind, then, it is quite unfortunate because he had worked here in Benue and he knows the governor. He knows that Governor Ortom is a God fearing person and doesn’t kill people, he doesn’t ask people to run militias. This is a governor who disarmed hundreds of youths through the amnesty programme. So, he cannot turn round to be arming people. Arm them to do what? You want to lead as a governor, why would you arm people to go through all that. It’s quite unfortunate and we want to believe that he has been wrongly quoted.
Tershaku alleged that he warned the governor about implementing the anti-open grazing law, that, he asked the governor to set up private ranching before implementing the law but the governor refused. What would you say about that?
He couldn’t have warned the governor against the anti-open grazing law. This is a people’s law, the governor only acted on behalf of the people and when the law was in the process of being enacted, all stakeholders were involved. Tershaku himself was a stakeholder and he was supposed to be part of it. So, he was expected to take his memo to the state House of Assembly and the law is clear on the establishment of ranching, that it is not a government business but private one and ranch owners are supposed to follow due process to establish ranching. So, if he said he advised the governor against the law then, that is another unfortunate statement. I mean he should have refused to be the leader of the livestock guards because if he didn’t believe in the law, then he should as well step down or declined his appointment as head of the livestock guards which is the body responsible for the implementation of the law. So, I think is a contradiction.
So why is the governor preventing him from coming back to Benue after his administrative bail?
The governor has never prevented or stopped him from coming to Benue State. Governor Ortom is not the type of governor who prevents people from coming to Benue. Those who sit in Abuja and insult him, they come to Benue on a daily basis and Tershaku has come to Benue after he was released.
But he swore that he has never visited Benue since he was released?
Well, that is okay if he has not come to Benue State. That means he doesn’t want to come to Benue because Benue is open even to enemies of the state. They sit in Abuja and insult the governor; they come to Makurdi and insult the governor. Tershaku is not an enemy of Benue and if he were an enemy of Benue, the governor wouldn’t have appointed him. So, why would the governor stop him from coming to Benue? He is not the governor’s enemy and therefore, he is free to come to Benue.
As it is now, is he still a Senior Special Assistant to the governor because according to him, he is yet to receive official communication from the governor on whether he has been sacked or not?
Well, what I do know is that the leadership of the livestock guards which he was the coordinator has been dissolved. The leadership of the livestock guards as at the time it was constituted and he was the head has been dissolved. That is all I know.
Tershaku had alleged that those coordinating the outfit presently after he was arrested, are those with criminal records at various prisons including police and DSS but he has no such records in his life time. Is that correct?
Were those people working under him before now? You did not ask him?
We asked him but he said that he was not the person that made the appointment. For instance, in the case of those from zone C axis of the state, it was the deputy governor who singlehandedly recruited them. Isn’t that true?
But were they working under him and if they were working under him before their current position, it was Tershaku’s moral obligation to report them to security agencies that these people have criminal records. If you are working in an organisation and some people under you have questionable character, it’s either you tell government ‘I would either resign or you remove these people. Make a choice between me and these people who have questionable character.’ But if he head the livestock guards with questionable characters under him, then that means your guess is as good as mine because you can’t preside over an organisation that is peopled by individuals with questionable character, then you accused them after you have been relieved of that appointment. Since he knew these people and he refused to report them to the police and only saying it now, leaves a lot to be desired.