Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has been piqued by statement of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, that anti-grazing law caused herdsmen to attack and kill people in the state.
Idris briefed a Senate Committee on Friday on the progress made in the effort to end the crisis between herders and farmers in Benue.
He was to have blamed state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law for the killings by suspected herdsmen.
The report has infuriated Ortom, who promptly doubted the sincerity of the police boss on the crisis.
The governor issued a statement on Saturday in which he lampooned Idris and punctured his argument, especially that herders’ attacks and killings preceded the law.
The governor also accused the police of nonchalance in the handling of security situation in Benue state.
The statement was issued by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase.
The full statement below:
We read statements credited to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, as having blamed the recent killing of innocent Benue people by herdsmen on the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state.
We thought that the IGP was misquoted and expected the police authorities to issue a rebuttal to the reports hence our delay in responding swiftly.
Consequently, we have to respond to the erroneous impression which the reports have created.
Indeed, it was this unrelenting spate of attacks that prompted the people of the state to seek a permanent solution to the incessant crisis between farmers and herders hence the law for the establishment of ranches as the best method of animal husbandry across the globe.
The law which has constitutional backing followed due process with the requisite public hearings and input from various stakeholders. The police authorities had ample opportunity to also make input while the process was ongoing. They, however, failed to do so.
The unfortunate claim by the IGP indicates that some of those saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property as well as maintaining law and order have abdicated their duty and become accomplices with those undermining the very existence of the country. This is shameful.
If truly the IGP said what was widely reported by the media, our conclusion is that he is a clear case of a man who is either on a mission to mislead the nation or is complicit in the attacks on Benue communities and the killing of many people by terror herdsmen.
IGP Idris needs to be reminded that herdsmen attacked Benue State more than 50 times and killed scores of people before the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law was enacted in the state. The law could, therefore, not have been the cause of the crisis.
The IGP should tell Nigerians if states like Adamawa, Zamfara, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Enugu, Edo, Plateau among others where armed herdsmen have killed hundreds of people also have anti-open grazing laws in place.
It will be recalled that a few days after the killings took place and all fingers were pointed towards the direction of armed herdsmen, the IGP quickly rose in defence of the herdsmen and frantically tried to divert attention from the genocide being perpetrated by herdsmen with a comment that it was a ‘mere communal clash’. Did he not know that there was a law in place in Benue State when he made that statement?
With his latest demand that the ranching law of Benue be suspended, it is now clear where the loyalty and interest of the Inspector General of Police lie – certainly not with innocent Nigerians.
He has now positioned himself not only as the mouthpiece of those who are killing Benue people but indeed as their shield. Little wonder herdsmen still proudly carry about sophisticated weapons and willfully terrorise innocent people in the state without being arrested.
We wish to place it on record that contrary to the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the Inspector General of Police should relocate to Benue to ensure that the killings stop, the IGP spent only one day in Benue and left for a destination where only he could tell. No one has seen him in Benue since that day.
Nigerians must know that contrary to the statement credited to the IGP, herdsmen are still killing people in Benue. It will, therefore, be wrong to say that enough security has been provided.
At the last count after the mass burial of 73 victims of the attacks, about 10 people have been killed in Guma Local Government Area, one killed in Logo and much more are receiving treatment in the hospital having suffered varying degrees of injuries with property worth millions of naira destroyed.
Benue now has nearly 100,000 displaced persons in seven camps established by the state government. We, therefore, find IG Ibrahim Idris’ statement as mockery and a shameful dance on the graves of those killed in the state by herdsmen.
The constitutional responsibility of the police is to maintain law and order and not to make or criticise same.
That the IGP would have the audacity to blame a law made to ensure peace in the state and call for its repeal amounts to taking sides with lawless groups that gave notice to invade and carried out their threats.
There is no surprise that the police ignored petitions for the arrest and prosecution of leaders of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the masterminds of the current invasion and the attendant massacre.
If the Inspector General of Police Mr Idris is not competent to help bring an end to the invasion and killing of innocent people in Benue and other states by herdsmen, the noble thing to do is to resign instead of twisting facts to suit his objective.