Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said he was outraged by reports in the media quoting Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, as saying that he was warned ahead of the January 1 killings in Logo and Guma Local Government areas of the state. In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity on Monday, Laolu Akande, the Vice-President described as “a terrible falsehood” the suggestion that he was ever informed by the governor or anyone else of the killings.
The statement read, “Governor Ortom wrote to the Vice President, then Acting President on 7th June 2017 protesting a newspaper publication where the leadership of Miyetti Allah was reported to have stated that it was opposed to the Open Grazing Prohibition law of the State and that they would mobilise to resist the law.
“The Miyetti Allah had written to the Vice President on the 5th of June 2017 on the same law protesting several sections of the law. “The governor went on to say that the leadership of Miyetti Allah should be arrested because they used words such as ‘wicked, obnoxious and repressive,’ to describe the law, and because these were ‘utterances that are capable of undermining the peace…’
“The Vice President subsequently met with the governor, discussed the matter and the security situation in the state and then ordered law enforcement agencies to be on the alert to prevent any attacks or violence. This was in June 2017!” According to the statement, there was no mention of any threat to any specific one of the 23 local governments of Benue state in the said letter written by the governor.
It said that the best the law enforcement agencies could do then was to await information or intelligence of an imminent attack and none of such came. It also added that since then, the Vice-President had held meetings with the Benue state governor, including a visit to the state on September 6, 2017 at the instance of President Muhamamdu Buhari during the tragic floods in the state.
The Vice-President, the statement continued discussed the security situation of the state with the governor at all the meetings. Also observed in the statement was that the then Acting President also convened a major national security retreat which was attended by all state governors, service chiefs and heads of security agencies. It added that the retreat featured detailed discussions on the herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes.
“To the best of our knowledge, neither Governor Ortom nor the Federal Government was aware of the imminence of the cowardly attack on Logo and Guma on the 1st of January, and therefore any suggestion that the President or the Vice President ignored the state governor’s warning is both absolutely false and certainly misleading,” the statement concluded.