Ortom meets Buhari days after surviving assassination attempt

Ortom has rebuked those who claim he made up the attack to win public sympathy.

Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom (left), is grateful for  President Muhammadu Buhari's support [Presidency]

The governor claimed that his convoy was attacked by over a dozen armed militia men while leaving his farm on Makurdi-Gboko Road on Saturday, March 20, 2021.

He said he had to run for over one kilometre while his security aides repelled the attack which he has blamed on Fulani herders angry with him over Benue's anti-open grazing law.

The attack has been met with widespread outrage, including a call by President Muhammadu Buhari for a thorough investigation.

Ortom met with the president at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday, March 23, and commended him for his strong statement to condemn the attack.

The governor told State House correspondents that he was also glad about the support he's got from his fellow governors regarding the attack.

He asked that the issue is not manipulated for political gain, especially as insecurity is a serious issue that should be jointly tackled by all.

The governor also rebuked those who have claimed that he made up the attack to win public sympathy.

Ortom has been at loggerheads with the Fulani herding community for years over grazing practices.

Nomadic herders and local farmers have been involved in an agelong conflict over access to land, leading to the death of hundreds of people and displacement of many more from their communities.

State governments and the Federal Government have considered ranching as an alternative to open grazing that usually leads to conflict, but little progress has been made.

With Benue one of the most affected by the conflict, Ortom signed the anti-open grazing law in 2017 to outlaw open grazing, a law that herders have insisted is discriminatory.

"That law is not targeted against any ethnic group or individual. It's meant to regulate the activities of herdsmen and farmers," Ortom said on Tuesday.

The governor said anyone found violating the nation's laws should be made to face appropriate consequences to serve as deterrence.

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