I’m being persecuted for grazing law, says Gov. Ortom

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GRAZING

…Don’t use law as excuse -APC

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Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that he is being persecuted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government because he dared to sign the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bill into law.

This was even as the APC has warned the governor to stop talking as if he owns the Anti Open Grazing law, insisting that the law belongs to the people and was enacted by the APC-led government.

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The governor, who spoke at a meeting with stakeholders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from Oju and Obi Local Government Areas at the auditorium of the College of Education in Oju, stated that the major reason he left the APC was because the party could not protect the interest of the people of Benue State.

Ortom said after he signed the law in May 2017, leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore addressed several press conferences where they pledged to mobilise their kith and kin across the world to invade the state.

The governor also said he came to the conclusion after his cries for the arrest and prosecution of leaders of various Fulani groups, including Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) who threatened to invade the state and carried out the threat, fell on deaf ears.

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The governor stated that his petitions to the relevant authorities, to preempt the invasion, were ignored just as his request for the arrest of those who claimed responsibility for the subsequent attacks and killings.

He said if the issue at stake is grazing alone, the establishment of ranches would have provided permanent peace between farmers and herders, but that the real agenda was conquest and occupation.

Governor Ortom further alleged that leaders of the APC at the national level, with their collaborators in the state, have made him a target for elimination on account of the Ranches Law, which the people have insisted should not be repealed.

He requested the people to give him a second chance in 2019 as the recession, coupled with security challenges, hindered him from delivering on most of his campaign promises.

He pointed out that the end of the matter is better than the beginning. He noted, however, that inspite of the challenges, he has recorded several milestones which have been captured in a publication that was circulated at the meeting.

Those who spoke, included Samson Okwu, Adogah Onah, Chief Raymond Ijale, Comrade Moses Onuh, and Mrs. Comfort Agogo.

They appealed for provision of critical infrastructure, more appointments and attention to issues of workers welfare, and pledged support for Ortom’s re-election.

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In a swift reaction, APC Publicity Secretary in the state, James Ornguga, insisted that the law ia an APC law because the Bill was signed into law by an APC speaker of the House of Assembly and assented to by an APC governor.

Ornguga said if anybody should lay claim to the law, it should be the ruling party and not Ortom; stressing that if truly the governor has the interest of the state at heart, he should clear salaries being owed workers in the state.

“What the Governor is saying has nothing to do with the interest of the state at all… The law is the law of the people and not his own. After all, the law is still not being implemented up to 30 percent in the state…”

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