Don’t Chicken-Out Now: Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Embolden Ortom

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  • Ask States To Pass Anti-open Grazing Law Like Benue
  • As 4 Feared Dead In Renewed Herdsmen Attack

… Attacks Rechoed Call For Restructuring

By ‘Dotun Akintomide

Against the backdrop of dastardly killings, bloodshed and anguish that have continued to greet the Benue State anti-open grazing law, leaders of social-cultural organizations in the southern and middle belt part of the country have paid a solidarity visit to Governor Samuel Ortom, urging him not to chicken out in the battle to find a permanent solution to the revolting Fulani herdsmen onslaught.

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The leaders under the auspices of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Niger Delta and the Middle Belt groups on Wednesday assured the government and people of the state that they are solidly behind them and would support them should the need arise.

Forming what would henceforth be known as the Southern-Middle Belt Forum, the groups also made a call for the replication of the anti-open grazing law in all the states of the federation.

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The speakers and opinions leaders from the groups who spoke at the occasion registered their support for Benue.

Former governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, called for the adoption of the anti-open grazing law in all the 36 states and the FCT.

He also spoke against the proposed cattle colony, saying, “No murderer should be allowed to come close, not to talk about occupying the land of victims.”

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President of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, lamented that any reasonable person would be alarmed by the hemorrhage going on in the country.

“I have never seen a country that practises democracy and does not listen to the voice of the people, thus the need for restructuring,” he stated.

According to him, “We came here to tell you that you are not alone and we will not allow another attack to happen.

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“We shall rise from this grief stronger, more united, and determined to quench tyranny in our land.”

He said he and his group were not happy over the visit of Governor Ortom to Abuja, but added that “your going to Abuja was a sign of respect and not weakness.”

He observed that it should have been the other way, because “the killing of 75 persons in Benue is not the killing of 75 chickens.”

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Chief Edwin Clark, who spoke for the Niger Delta, said: “We tell you, the people of Benue, that you have paid your dues to this country. Justice must be done for the people of Benue.”

According to him, “What has happened will not happen again because we shall come together.

“We say there should be a Nigeria but a Nigeria with Justice.”

Leader of the Middle Belt, Bala Kakaya, said: “Let’s call it (the killings) by its true name; it’s no other than ethnic cleansing.”
He said the ‘handshake across the Niger’ has become a reality at last with the coming together of the Middle Belt and the South.

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Kakaya continued: “The bloodshed is getting too much. The bloodshed of the departed in Benue will not go in vain.
“The visit is to encourage you; you have done marvelously.

“You have taken the first step by enacting the anti-open grazing law, which other people are copying and must copy. So be steadfast, be strong; we are solidly behind you.”

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The Southern/Middle Belt Forum commended Ortom for the manner in which he had so far handled the crisis, describing him as a “civilian general”.

Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who spoke on behalf of Afenifere, reiterated his stand that President Muhammadu Buhari was not, and is not, the right person to lead the country.

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He explained that when he pointed this out before Buhari was elected, he was accused of spreading hate speeches. He remarked that the result was now bare for all to see.

He stressed the call for restructuring and decried the situation where the security apparatus of a nation was in the hands of one man, Buhari.

Adebanjo told Governor Ortom that, “Any step you take to get out of this bondage; we stand solidly behind you.”

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Expressing their displeasure, three socio-cultural groups in the state asked Governor Ortom to pull out of the Northern Governors’ Forum should the Federal Government fail to resolve the crisis.

Others present at the visit include former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko; Senator Chris Anyanwu; Senator Stella Omu; human rights activist, Yinka Odumakin; ex-governor of Ebonyi State, Sam Egwu; Colonel Tony Nyiam; music icon, Innocent Idibia (Tuface), and Mrs. Esther Audu, among others.

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Meanwhile, despite the hue and cry over the herdsmen conundrum, 4 persons were feared dead in Logo and Guma local governments as herdsmen renewed attacks on communities Tuesday.

Ortom disclosed this while playing host to the Southern/Middle Belt Forum in Makurdi on Wednesday at Benue Peoples’ House, Makurdi.

Albeit, the governor did not give more details, he said he was still worried because pockets of killings were still going on.

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