Mon. May 20th, 2024

By Emmanuel Onwuka


“Without a common power to keep them all in awe, they(men) are in that condition called war”.
-Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679).


The political history of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari whenever it will be written if he makes good his pledge to respect the supreme law and go into political retirement on May 29th 2023, will be incomplete without a detailed mention of the infamy he attracted to himself by his handling of the persistent one sided acts of terrorism unleashed on farmers by the kinsmen of President Muhammadu Buhari- Fulani. 
The Fulani ethnicity dominates the cattle rearing industry in Nigeria.


A significant flashpoint of these cocktails of vicious attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen is Benue State whereby since the year 2015, the governor has been Mr. Samuel Ioraer Ortom who shares the same birth month of April with my son-Prince Naetochukwu Nnadozie Onwubiko who is just seven.


As the governor of Benue State whereby hundreds of violent and bloody attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen targeting farmers have happened, he has been placed in such a historical position to speak and take steps to halt the persistent terrorist attacks in his state. He has also sheded tears of angst and righteous indignation over the emergence of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons from Benue State made refuges in their own Country by armed Fulani terrorists some of whom were left to migrate into Nigeria with tons of sophisticated weapons of mass destruction by the federal government.  The internal security architecture is controlled totally by Fulani/Hausa Moslems since 2015. Customs, immigrations, DSS, NIA,  Police, Civil Defence are all manned by the persons sharing same ethnicity with armed Fulani herdsmen. 
And so the efforts by the Benue State governor to stop these attacks have largely been scuttled by the officials working for president Muhammadu Buhari. These officials have clearly demonstrated their preference for defending their ethnic agendum than work as publicly paid appointees of the presidency. 


One of the most notable sectional public office holders in this dispensation on the matter of armed Fulani attacks of farmers is the senior special Assistant on media to President Buhari, the Kano State born Fulani Journalist Malami Garba Shehu.
The Benue State governor has also faced a barrage of attacks both physically and in the press by officials of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Sellers clubs who have openly made it known that Samuel Ortom is their persona non grata.  
The Benue State governor has also come face-to-face with assassins who shot severally at him but he managed to escape due to the Grace of God. 
However, as a governor, he has no constitutional control over the Armed Forces and Police and this impediment has exposed him to active forms of security sabotage from the office of the current president.


Recently, he the Benue State governor was disallowed from accessing the Air force base in Makurdi Benue State to receive the vice president even when he was duly invited. These are all orchestrated attacks on him for defending his victimized citizens.


Section 218. (1) of the Nigerian Constitution stated thus: The powers of the President as the Commissioner-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation.
(2)     The powers conferred on the President by subsection (1) of this section shall include power to appoint the Chief of Defence staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and heads of any other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.
(3)     The President may, by directions in writing and subject to such conditions as he think fit, delegate to any member of the armed forces of the Federation his powers relating to the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation.
(4)     The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the regulation of –
(a)     the powers exercisable by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation; and
(b)     the appointment, promotion and disciplinary control of members of the armed forces of the Federation.
Section 214. (1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stated thus: There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution –
(a)     the Nigeria Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly;
(b)     the members of the Nigeria Police shall have such powers and duties as maybe conferred upon them by law;
(c)     the National Assembly may make provisions for branches of the Nigeria Police Force forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for the protection of harbours, waterways, railways and air fields.


From the aforementioned provisions of the Grund Norm, it is now explicitly understood why all efforts by Governor Ortom to secure the lives of his people who are under constant attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen, may not easily be achieved unless and except he decides to adopt extra- ordinary means to defend his people relying on section 33 (1) which guarantees right to life to Nigerian citizens.


It is therefore of categorical imperative to assert that governor Samuel Ortom’s ordeals constitute a significant poser of why him.
The origin of the hatred for him from Abuja’s seat of power intensified when he spoke truth to power by reminding President Muhammadu Buhari of his Oath of office as the president of Nigeria and not an ethnic war lord.
 
He said, “When I talk, I was being castigated, I was being vilified, nothing bad that was not said against me, I am this and that but the reality is here and it is not just happening in Benue State today, it is happening in the entire country.


“Why is the Federal Government being silent about these Fulani herdsmen? When will the Federal Government come out and criticise and arrest herdsmen carrying AK-47? When are they going to do that? Are we second (-class) citizens in this country? Why (is) the Fulani men superior to a Tiv man? I am not their slave, a Benue man is not slave to any Fulani man in this country.
“We stand for justice, equity and fairness. Whatever is happening to a Fulani man should also happen to a Tiv man. That was why I called the Federal Government to licence me and many others to have guns, to have AK-47 too. Because if I have my AK-47 and a Fulani man is coming there, he knows that I have and he has, then we can fight each other.
“But you can’t disarm me and arm a Fulani man. This is not right, the Federal Government is biased, it is unfair. The failure in security is caused by the Federal Government.”


Ortom said perhaps the lieutenants of the President were not feeding him with accurate information on happenings in the country.
He said, “Mr President, in case you are listening to me, I want you to know that your people, Nigerians, you promised Nigerians that you will be fair to all. You said that you will be for everybody and for nobody, and now it will appear that you are for Fulani people because nothing is coming from you to give the people confidence that you are their President.


“You are the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you are not the President of Fulani. You are the President of everybody and I owe you a duty as a stakeholder in this nation to let you know that what is going on is wrong and this has the potential of dividing this country which will not be in the interest of anyone –some of us believe in the unity of this country.”
Continuing the governor said, “Mr. President, if some people are deceiving you that all is well, it is not well with us in Benue State and what I can hear from other states, it is not well with Nigeria today, you must act fast before it is late.”
But Ortom spoke the truth going by the unambiguous provision of the presidential oath of office as provided for in the Nigeria Constitution which I will copiously quote in the subsequent paragraphs.


From Seventh schedule which is oath of office of President, part of the oath obliges the President to ensure as follows: “…That I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions; that I will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will abide by the Code of Conduct contained in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; that I will not directly or indirectly communication or reveal to any person any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as President; and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria. So help me God”.


The president has however in his dealing with the issues of violence against farmers in Benue State has violated the sacred oath by elevating his personal ethno-religious interests over and above national interest. This is demonstrated in the needless media war against the Benue State governor by the senior special assistant on media to the president.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, carpeted the Governor in a statement over recent comments credited to him that he would die fighting Buhari over the directive to review grazing routes across a number of states in the federation.


Shehu said Ortom’s lack of political principles could be seen from the fact that he has changed political party five times during his undistinguished career.
The presidency said every time he (Ortom) feels the wind may be blowing in a certain direction, he follows it.
According to the presidency, it’s unfortunate, that for the good citizens of Benue State, the most dangerous direction the Governor is blowing today is that of sectarianism and ethnicity.
Shehu said, “In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, Ortom takes the cheapest and lowest route possible by playing on ethnic themes – and in doing so knowingly causes deaths of innocent Nigerians by inciting farmers against herders, and Christians against Muslims.
“Specifically, Ortom stirs up hatred by targeting one single ethnic group in Nigeria – using language reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide.


“As was the case in Rwanda where the then Hutu leaders of the country incited their countrymen against each other, claiming there was a “secret Tutsi agenda” over the Hutu, Ortom claims there is a “secret Fulanization agenda” over other ethnic groups in his state and in Nigeria. This is a copy of the language of Hutu Power – which falsely, and intentionally, accused the Rwandan Tutsi of plans to dominate the country.
“This wicked talk is aimed at giving cover to his so-called “policy” on the Ranches Establishment Law – which in reality is purely an act of denial of the law – intended to withhold rights and freedoms from one ethnic group alone, whilst inciting race hatred against them amongst all others.


“These are not the actions of a man who should be trusted with running public services or holding public office.
“For the governor of a major state in Nigeria to be politically driven by ethnic hatred is a stain on our country.
“The good, and fair-minded people of Benue State deserve more than this, and we look forward to the next elections when they have an opportunity to restore its greatness.”
All these attacks was because Benue State legally made law to stop cows and armed herdsmen from destroying farms and crops and killing farmers.
The Benue State governor was around May of the year 2021 attacked by assassins but he survived. 


The heavily compromised police announced the arrest of the suspected attackers of the governor but for a year that matter has been swept under the carpets by the police.
The Benue State governor has also spoken out against the marginalization of the South East of Nigeria by president Buhari. 
But because officials of president Buhari live in fool’s paradise they hate this truth by Samuel Ortom who true to the significance of his name etymologically, spoke courageously without let or hindrance. 


The Abuja officials hate the truth and can do just anything to spread propaganda to undermine and impede the attempts by critics such as Benue State governor to spread the truth. 
Television houses that granted the governor interviews such as Channels and Arise have had their licenses threatened by reactionary elements in Buhari’s government.


The Benue State governor is neither frightened nor perturbed but is consistent in speaking truth to power.
One of those bitter truths remains his explicit statement on the cruel marginalization of Ndigbo by President Buhari’s administration.
Citizen Samuel Ortom had charged the federal government to construct infrastructural projects in the south East including projects that will bring development. 


He told the central government to also allocate enough resources to the south east and include them in key appointments in order to end rising agitations in the south east. He further said that the Nigerian federal government always detest him when ever he comes out to say the truth about what president Muhammadu Buhari does even though what he is saying is not a lie.
 
According to Governor Ortom, he claimed that the federal government does not see him as a patriotic man all because he always reminded them about the rule of law when ever they did something that isn’t in line with the Constitution. He asked President Muhammadu Buhari to organize a stakeholder meeting with south east leaders and discuss challenges which are facing the region which have led to violence in the east.


The significant poser is: what has citizen Samuel Ortom done to deserve all these attacks? The truth is that those who hate Ortom are HATERS OF TRUTH. 

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was federal commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA. 
 
 

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