Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has alleged that Fulani herdsmen were planning to kidnap and kill him over his stand against open grazing in the state.
He made this known during an interactive session with the church, traditional institution and other stakeholders towards peaceful elections in 2019, organised by the Makurdi Catholic Diocese at the Pastoral Centre, Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Ortom alleged that he received an intelligence report, which indicated that the Fulani herdsmen, who are currently occupying part of Guma Local Government Area of the state, were planning to attack him along Abuja-Lafia Road.
According to the governor, “The armed herdsmen, according to the intelligence report, would ensure that all my security aides were killed after which they would Kidnap me, torture me before killing me. Already, l had reported the matter to the police and other security agencies and they are aware of this.”
Pointing out that the plot to kill him is being hatched with some Benue indigenes, Ortom also alleged that there are plans to disenfranchise voters, as he according to him, most of the polling units in the crisis affected areas have been destroyed and taken over by the Fulani herdsmen as their grazing fields.
“Amnesty International had come out to disclose that over 19,000 people have lost their lives in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states to herdsmen attacks and this does not speak well of Nigeria especially as we are heading towards 2019,” he said.
While lamenting that Benue indigenes had become destitutes and refugees in their own father land, Ortom further revealed that pockets of killings were still going on in Makurdi, Guma, Logo and Katsina Ala local government areas of the state.
He explained further that most of the farmlands along the borderlines of Taraba and Nasarawa States had been taken over by herdsmen militia who currently occupy the areas to the detriment of the indigenes.
He attributed the success of his administration’s Amnesty Programme to the support he enjoyed from the leadership of the Catholic Church in the state.
In his contribution, the Catholic Bishop of Makurdi, Bishop Wilfred Anagbe explained that over 306 traditional rulers, youths, members of both Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) and Catholic Men Organisation and other stakeholders were invited for the meeting to educate them on a violence- free election ahead of 2019.
While noting that Nigeria had been ravaged by violent crisis in the last few years, Anagbe maintained that it was pertinent on the church to meet and discuss with the traditional rulers who are instruments of peace in their domains to enlighten their subjects that no politician should intimidate, coerce or induce them to vote against their conscience.
“Tiv land, Benue land and Nigeria as a whole have been traumatised by series of violent crisis in the past few years and now that elections are around the corner, people are taking advantage of this. “We are trying to let them get into the picture of having to be instruments of peace in their localities because these are the people in the grassroots.
“We have had enough of bloodshed. Let us now do politics that is devoid of violence. If anyone comes to deceive them with whatever inducement, they must be able to resist it,” the Bishop stated.