The Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, has offered reasons why he expelled Fulani herdsmen from Benue State, North Central Nigeria.
Ortom said that he gave the order for expulsion of armed herdsmen because their presence undermines the security of the state.
The governor stated this on Thursday while fielding questions from State House correspondents shortly after attending a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He described the herdsmen as unfriendly to his people, adding that he needed to take the decision because his responsibility as the state governor is to ensure safety of lives and property.
He said: “I ordered armed herdsmen out of my state. They are not friendly to my people. They are killing them and I cannot tolerate that. My job as governor is to provide security for lives and property. I cannot watch seeing people being killed unprovoked. It is not right.
“The only thing my people are living on is farming. When you go to their farmlands and destroy their crop and then when they complain, you kill them. That will never be acceptable. I will not fold my hands to watch this happen.”
“I have told the security men to ensure the arrest of all those who have arms. You are aware that through my amnesty programme, I was able to disarm the criminal elements in my society because I believe in the rule of law and due process.
“Without the rule of law, there is no way we can govern. A stronger person will come and take over the affairs of the state from where ever you are. And so, we must abide by the rule of law.”
Ortom said apart from corruption, governments at all levels must be ready to fight impunity which he said is worse than corruption.
“Another thing is impunity, it is worse than corruption. So, why we are fighting corruption, we must also fight impunity. This is not right.
“Those armed herdsmen, are they above the law? So, the security men must track and arrest them and prosecute them according to the law.
“I have told my people that as farmers, they have no business carrying arms. And so, I will protect them as long as I am governor is my state,” he added.
The governor added that since the arms with the herdsmen were not licensed, they must be apprehended.