A former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, says it is surprising that almost 48 hours after gunmen attacked Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, the two umbrella bodies of herdsmen in the country –the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore – have not condemned the attack or denied involvement in the ambush.
We had earlier reported that Ortom on Saturday said suspected herdsmen numbering about 15 attacked him in his farm at Tyo-Mu community, near Makurdi, the state capital.
He attributed the attack to his campaign against killer herdsmen, who had been attacking farmers in the state and other parts of the country.
Prominent groups in the country, including the Middle Belt Forum, the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Northern Governors’ Forum had since condemned Saturday’s assassination attempt on the Ortom but the two Miyetti Allah groups have not condemned the assault as of the time of filing this report.
He said, “This is a very sad situation and a daring attack on a sitting governor even though this is not the first attack on a sitting governor – Governor (Babagana) Zulum has been attacked several times by Boko Haram but why this one is taking a dimension it is taking is that it has some ethnic coloration which is capable of conflagrating and then bringing this country to serious problem.
“Even though no arrest has been made, the governor has claimed that he has intelligence that the Fulanis have threatened to eliminate him but altogether, it is a very sad development and I want to charge our security agencies to ensure that the culprits are brought out to face the law. This is a very big security challenge that must be brought under control by the security agencies who must fish out the people and know their intentions.”
We had also reported that a shadowy group, the Fulani Nationality Movement, in a statement on Sunday, said it carried out the attack on Ortom, adding that its members won’t relent until they kill the governor for opposing open grazing in the country.
Ejiofor said should the statement by the Fulani group be true, then, Nigeria was in serious trouble and the security agencies must fish out the criminals who have claimed responsibility for the attack.
“I will regard that statement as fake but if it is not fake and the people are claiming responsibility, then it is a very dangerous way to go. Like the IG (Inspector General of Police) has directed that the security around the governor should be strengthened, the governor should also strengthen the security around him. If the group is real and claiming responsibility, then we are in serious trouble in the country,” he said.
The ex-DSS director also added, “The group that claimed responsibility is unknown but I am surprised that the known groups, the real Miyetti Allah, have not come out to deny or condemn that action. It is surprising to me.
“The earlier they do that to exonerate themselves from such act the better for them because silence at times means consent. So, if they continue to remain silent, it is either they were part of it or they are giving consent to what actually happened.”