Defend Yourselves Without Carrying Arms – Ortom Tells Nigerians

The governor of Benue State, Sam Ortom, says Nigerians should rise up to defend themselves against attackers without necessarily carrying arms.

The governor said citizens could use sticks to disarm attackers, recalling that he disarmed robbers armed with seven AK47 in the past.

According to him, security matters are not just left in the hands of security men as it requires the collaboration of all Nigerians.

Ortom said this in an interview with State House reporters Tuesday after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Reacting to a recent call by a former Minister of Defence, Theophilus Danjuma asking people to defend themselves, Ortom said Danjuma was misrepresented.

“He (Danjuma) did not tell anybody to take up arms. He only said that people should protect themselves. Of course, you know that self-preservation is the first law of nature. You can’t just wait in your house and allow someone to come and kill you. You can resist the person, but you don’t necessarily need to have arms. I think that was what the former minister was saying.

“There is a need for people to arise to defend themselves not necessarily using weapons that are banned. You can use a stick and disarm someone. Some years ago, I was able to disarm armed robbers with seven AK 47 without anything. I think that is the kind of thing he (Danjuma) is trying to say. Nigerians should rise up to do this.

“Security matters are not just left in the hands of security men, it requires every one of us to put our heads together and be courageous to be able to surmount it,” the governor stated.

He said he visited Buhari to thank him for his recent condolence visitor to Benue State after the killings there as well as to also intimate him with the current situation.

He said he also reminded Buhari about the request of Benue people and assured him that the state remained committed to a united Nigeria ‘and to work with him in ensuring that we collaborate with the Federal Government to provide security for lives and property in Nigeria.”

He said he also informed the president about the plight of over 175,000 displaced persons in eight camps in the state who had expressed the desire to return home.

The governor noted Buhari assured him that the federal government would rehabilitate those displaced and consider all other issues presented to him.

“It is quite assuring that it will be well and I want to thank the President for the support he has shown. I know that this crisis did not just start during his tenure, it precedes this government. When I was serving as a minister, my ancestral home was destroyed, 53 people were killed and this was in 2013 when Mr. President was not yet here. But I think that what is important is that the NEC sub-committee headed by the Vice President is doing the needful.

Ortom said his government remained committed to the people of the state and it ranching law which, according to him, is the way forward.

“Like I keep saying, if people have better options, let them bring it to the table. For us in Benue State, that remains the global best practice and Nigeria cannot be an exception especially when the land is decreasing and the population is increasing. The 20 million cattle in Nigeria cannot cope with open grazing, there is no doubt about that and a solution has to be created just as it is done in India with over 300 million herds of cattle, in Brazil 250 million herds of cattle and in America 300 million but yet, there has not been clashes like we’ve witnessed in Nigeria with just 20 million cattle.

“So, we must adopt global best practices and modern ways of animal house boundary, this will go a long way in helping us. And I think that for us in Benue, we’re winning because even Miyetti Allah makaban have accepted that truly, ranching remains the best option. We commend them.”

He pledged that his government would work with Meiyetti Allah “to see how our law can wear human face to ensure that we have a win-win for all.”

“And you’d recall that the issue of cattle rustling is a very major problem to the cattle rearers in Nigeria. Ranching will minimize this problem in Nigeria, it will minimize attacks on farms and encroachment on farms. So, we encourage everyone to work with us to ensure that we achieve this,” the governor said.

Ortom also stated that he had no strained relationship with Buhari’s government over the security challenge in Benue.

I’m an APC governor and the federal government is APC. We’ve always been meeting and I’ve said very positive things about this government before and I’ve not retracted what I said. The fact is that I have a challenge at hand and need to stay with my people to be able to surmount this because they’re the people that elected me. And Benue people first before any other thing.

“I’ve not had any strained relationship with the federal government. I had a strained relationship with a security agency’s head, not even with security agencies and that was the point I was making. But all I was saying was trying to add value to the security of the nation by bringing my suggestions as a former local government chairman, former minister and now current serving governor. I think I’ve something to add to the security architecture of this country that can add value and help us to do better than we’re doing.

“There’s always room for improvement in any setting or organisation by buying from one person to the other because nobody has a monopoly of knowledge. We must synergize and corporate with one another and so when you neglect this, and you have a tragedy like the one you have in Benue State, it’s not good enough. And people must be willing to accept pieces of advice, especially a superior opinion that can help shape and add value to the development of our system.”

Asked what had changed in Benue since Buhari’s visit, he said “Well, there are some killings in flashpoints by these militia groups, the security men are doing their best, and a number of arrests have been made by the security agencies. It’s still going on. Even yesterday, there were killings, but the security men are doing their best. I believe that we’ll overcome this. If not for the presence of the security men in our land, the situation would’ve really worsened than what it’s today. I think we’re collaborating with the security agencies and are not leaving any stone unturned to overcome this.”

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