BENUE State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said calls by the Minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, and the Benue State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, for the declaration of a state of emergency as shocking.
Ortom was responding to a press conference addressed by Akume on behalf of Benue APC stakeholders, in Abuja, on Monday.
In a press statement titled, ‘Senator Akume’s War on Benue State,’ which was signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Ortom said, “As a two-term former Governor of Benue State, it is shocking that Akume is now calling for the declaration of state of emergency in the state to dismantle democratic structures.”
Akume had while addressing the media over the deteriorating state of security in Benue State, asked the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency to bring the situation under control.
He said as stakeholders in Benue State, he and other APC stakeholders were alarmed at the “lonesome bitter and sustained campaign of calumny” launched by the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on the person and office of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Akume said, “Since Governor Ortom has consistently alleged that the security situation in Benue State has deteriorated in such a manner that lives of Benue people are not secured, we call on Mr. President as Commander- In -Chief of the Armed Forces, to declare a state of emergency in Benue State to bring the security situation in the state under control.”
The APC stakeholders also expressed outrage over Governor Ortom’s tirade often directed at the President.
They noted that most often than not, his utterances were devoid of decency and respect required of a younger person both in age and official government hierarchy.
The minister further said, “As far as we know, the President has delivered all his obligations to the governor and people of Benue State by ensuring regular and prompt releases of states and local government’s monthly federal allocations, all which amount to about N500bn since Ortom’s assumption of office as governor in 2015.”
Akume argued that despite the billions released to Benue State by the Federal Government through bailout funds, Ortom had done nothing in the state.
While calling on Ortom to apologise to the president, Akume said, “We call on the EFCC and ICPC to thoroughly investigate the application of the total federal allocations to Benue State from May 29, 2015 to date.
“The Federal Government should as a matter of urgency direct the disbandment of the Livestock Guards in Benue State for their involvement in nefarious and criminal activities leading to the breach of peace and massacre of innocent citizens of Benue State.”
In his response, Governor Ortom, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, in a statement titled, ‘Senator Akume’s War on Benue State,’ described Akume’s press conference as an organised smear campaign against Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
The statement read in part, “As expected, Senator Akume and his group avoided responding to the issues of insecurity in the country which the Governor has repeatedly and rightly accused the Presidency of complicity.
“The outing of George Akume and others in Abuja was nothing more than a massage of the ego of the Presidency to curry personal favours. As long as he and his group secure their meal tickets, Benue can go to hell. A media attack on Governor Ortom instantly attracts a package from the Villa.”
He challenged the minister to provide evidence to back his claim that Ortom was involved in corruption and sponsored militia.
The governor’s aide recalled that when Akume was governor, he challenged the then President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for not doing enough to end the Jukun/Tiv crisis on the border of Benue and Taraba State.
“He is on record to have confronted President Obasanjo and said uncomplimentary things to the President. Now he finds it convenient to give lectures on respect for hierarchy in government and age,” the statement read.
Ortom’s aide said his principal had nothing to hide and therefore welcomed a probe by the EFCC.
“We however invite the EFCC to begin their probe from 1999 when Akume became governor. The N2bn that went missing at the twilight of his administration has yet to be accounted for.
“Akume’s utterances in 2019 are still fresh in the minds of Benue people. After the state came under herdsmen attacks and hundreds were killed, he accused Benue people of killing themselves. That the people responded to him by voting him out of the Senate confirmed their anger towards him,” the statement read.