Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Thursday said that he ordered the expulsion of armed herdsmen out of his state was to protect the lives and property of his people.
Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, he said that it was incumbent on him to secure the people against any internal and external aggression.
Stressing that he couldn’t have continued watching helplessly while his people were getting killed by the herders, he said that his action is in line with the rule of law.
The governor also disclosed that he had appropriately directed the security agencies to ensure that the armed herdsmen were arrested and prosecuted.
He said: “I ordered armed herdsmen out of my state. They are not friendly to my people. They are killing them and I cannot tolerate that. My job as governor is to provide security for lives and property.
“I cannot watch seeing people being killed unprovoked. It is not right. The only thing my people are living on is farming. When you go to their farmland and destroy their crop and then when they complain you kill them, that will never be acceptable. I will not fold my hands to watch this happen.
“I have told the security men to ensure they arrest of all those who have arms. You are aware that through my amnesty Programme, I was able to disarm the criminal elements in my society because I believe in the rule of law and due process.
“Without the rule of law, there is no way we can govern. A stronger person will come and take over the affairs of the state from where ever you are. And so, we must abide by the rule of law. The impunity is what we should stand up and fight outside from corruption.” he said
He went on: “Another thing is impunity, it is worse than corruption. So, why we are fighting corruption, we just also fight impunity. This is not right. Those armed herdsmen, are they above the law?
“So, the security men must track and arrest them and prosecute them according to the law. I have told my people that as farmers, they have no business carrying arms. And so, I will protect them as long as I am governor is my state.” he said
He also refuted the claims that his directives were not accepted by the Commissioner of police, stressing that they were both on the same page.
“People with arms? The commissioner of police should arrest those people with arms. These are not licensed arms. I was with him when we went to Buruku, he never said anything to contradict what I said earlier. I don’t know where this fabrication is coming from. As far as I am concerned, I am in touch with my security council in Benue State. We meet regularly and all these problems we discuss them when we meet.
“And I as far as I am concerned, we are on the same page to ensure that those weigh arms should be arrested otherwise, they should leave the state”, he said.