BY JAMES AKINOLA
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has told the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore that he is ever ready to meet them at the International Criminal Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands.
Chief Press Secretary to Ortom, Nathaniel Ikyur, in a statement made available to Sunday Sun, said that the governor stated this while reacting to media threats credited to the Fulani group whose members have continued to wreak incalculable havoc on Benue communities, thereby killing thousands and rendering many others homeless.
The Secretary General of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Saleh Alhasssn, was reported to have said that the group has already approached the ICC in the Hague to file a suit against Governor Ortom for allegedly seizing over 25,000 cows belonging to his members and detaining over 4,000 herders.
Ortom, while reacting to the court action, reiterated his readiness to meet them in court.
“Tell Miyetti Allah and all its leadership that I am ready to meet them in court, anywhere,” Ortom said.
The governor further explained that as the governor of Benue State, he was implementing a law duly passed by the legislature and signed into law.
He insisted that the law was enacted in good faith and it remains “a win-win for the herders and farmers.
“Unfortunately, what we see is that the terrorists come with the sole intention to take over our ancestral lands and not to graze.”
Ortom maintained that the passage of the law was part of measures to end the incessant invasion by the armed Fulani herdsmen and halt farmers/herders clashes in the state.
He also stressed that the “implementation of the law banning open grazing of cattle in the state is irrevocable,” even as he advised Miyetti Allah and their collaborators to be ready for a long legal battle.
“Let those who are threatening to take me to court understand that every law is meant to be obeyed. For the avoidance of doubts, Benue people agreed for the law to be implemented. We are, therefore, enforcing the law. And anybody willing to do business in the state must abide by the law. I have done what is right and legitimate to protect my people from further killings. That is what constitutional democracy demands,” the governor stated.
Ortom insisted that “instead of Miyetti Allah directing their members who wish to live and do business in Benue State to abide by the law, they have continued to sponsor acts of terror against Benue people, killing and destroying properties worth billions of naira. As we speak, there are over two million of our Benue people living as refugees in IDP camps.”
Ortom also dismissed claims that officials of the Benue State Livestock Guards arrests cattle from neighbouring states.
According to him, “it is laughable to say that Benue State officials of the Livestock Guards go into Taraba or Nasarawa states to impound cattle. We know the boundaries between Benue and other states. As such, our officials do not go outside of the state boundaries to make any arrests of herds of cattle that violate our laws.
“We have documented evidence of threats and actual killings by Fulani terrorist groups who have been sponsored by Miyetti Allah to carry out violence against communities in the state.
“The state government has also compiled the atrocities of Fulani terrorists against Benue people and we are also demanding compensation from the Federal Government for the atrocious activities of Fulani terrorists in Benue State which have led to the killing of over 5,000 of my people, sacking of various communities, destruction of property worth billions of Naira and displacement of over two million people by these herdsmen. Make no mistake against this, I will continue to defend my people from this premeditated annihilation. The law is made to be obeyed. No compromise.”