From Athwev Kwamanze, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom spoke about the assassination attempt on him during the attack on his convoy at Tyomu community in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State, saying the gunmen, who he specifically said were Fulani herdsmen, aimed to either capture him alive or clearly kill him.
The governor’s convoy was attacked along the Makurdi–Gboko highway around 11am on Saturday.
The Governor told journalists in Makurdi, shortly after he escaped, that the attack was orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen who he said had earlier threatened to capture him alive.
According to him, “it is normal for me as a farmer to go to my farm on Saturdays.
“On my way back from my farm along Gboko road today, we started hearing gunshots. And we saw people dressed in black, they were Fulani herdsmen.
“They shot at us, but my security men were able to repel them, and we escaped unhurt. Nobody in my convoy was injured.
“From what I saw, they were more than 15 who came after us. They could be more than that,” he stated.
Gov. Ortom, however, alleged that it was not the first time, the suspected herders had tried to kill him, noting that intelligence reports available to him indicated that a group of herders in their general meeting held in Yola, Adamawa State, recently singled him out for elimination on grounds that he is working against them.
He added: “I heard I was targeted for elimination. This is not the first time.
“I heard intelligence report before now that they will kill my security men and capture me alive, then they will be killing me gradually. But, they have failed, they are not God and can’t kill me.
“They made an attempt today (Saturday), but my security men repelled them, and they could not take me.
“I’m not going to subject myself to any intimidation whatsoever. I don’t have problem with Fulani as a race, but I have problem with Fulani who are bandits. My people and I will not be slave to them.”
The governor further intimated that he has detailed his lawyers to immediately instigate a legal suit against the Myetti Allah Kautal Hore leadership because he believes the organization is behind the bandits who cause problem.
He none the less said the matter had been reported to all security agencies for prompt action, adding that already security operatives, including the Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), have gone after his attackers.
He called on security agencies to fish out bandits going around with AK47, while obeying the orders of the president to shoot them on sight.
“If I can’t go to my farm as a governor with all my security men, then who else can go to farm in the state?
“Mr. President has said those found with AK47 should be shot on sight, but I’m yet to see that happen.
“I call on security agencies to fish them out. They are in the forest between Makurdi and Abinsi across the river.
“They are trying to eliminate me, and I have not done them any evil. They want to take over our land and I said no. I’m not a second-class citizen to anyone in this country.
“I can never compromise my fight for equity, justice and fair play.
“The anti-open grazing law of Benue state can never be repealed – that’s what my people said.
“If at all it is reviewed, then it would be an increment of fines for offenders,” Ortom stated.