The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday backed a former Minister of Defence, Theophilus Danjuma, on his call on Nigerians to defend themselves in the face of killings across the country.

Ortom gave his support to the call in an interview with State House correspondents after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

While saying that Danjuma did not ask people to take up arms, the governor explained that the former Chief of Army Staff only said people should protect themselves.

He said, “Of course, you know that self-preservation is the first law of nature.

“You can’t just wait in your house and allow someone to come and kill you. You can resist the person, but you don’t necessarily need to have arms.

“I think that was what the former minister was saying. There is a need for people to arise to defend themselves not necessarily by using weapons that are banned.

“You can use a stick and disarm someone. Some years ago, I was able to disarm armed robbers bearing AK 47 rifles without anything. I think that is the kind of thing he is trying to say. Nigerians should rise up to do this.

“Security matters are not just left in the hands of security men, it requires every one of us to put our heads together and be courageous to be able to surmount it.”

The governor said some fresh killings had been recorded in his state after Buhari visited Benue State recently.

“Well, there are some killings in flashpoints by these militia groups, the security men are doing their best, and a number of arrests have been made by the security agencies.

“It is still going on, even yesterday (Monday), there were killings but the security men are doing their best. I believe that we will overcome this.

“If not for the presence of the security men in our land, the situation would have really been worse than what it is today. I think that we are collaborating with the security agencies and not leaving any stone unturned,” he added.

Ortom said he visited Buhari to thank him for his recent visit and to remind him about the requests made by the people of the state during the visit.

He said he briefed the President on the plight of over 175,000 Internally Displaced Persons in eight camps in the state.

The governor said the IDPs had expressed their desire to go back home.

He said Buhari assured him that government would ensure that the houses from where they were displaced were rehabilitated.

The governor insisted that the 20 million cattle in Nigeria could not cope with open grazing.

He said a solution had to be proffered just as it was done in India with over 300 million herds of cattle, in Brazil with 250 million herds of cattle and in America with 300 million.

Despite the huge population of cattle, he said there had not been clashes in those countries as being witnessed in Nigeria with just 20 million cattle.

The governor said the nation must adopt what he described as global best practices and modern ways of animal husbandry.

He said the state government was also winning because members of the Miyetti Allah had accepted that ranching remained the best option.

“We commend them and we will work with them to see how our law can have a human face to ensure that we have a win-win situation for all,”he said.

Ortom said despite his recent utterances, the relationship between him and the President remained cordial.

He however admitted that he had issues with heads of the nation’s security agencies.

…Saraki okays motion on ex-COAS position

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the plenary on Tuesday vetoed the rejection of a motion on the comments by former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), that Nigerians should defend themselves against killers.

Lawmaker representing Taraba Central Senatorial District, Yusuf Yusuf, raised a point of order to bring a motion on Danjuma’s allegation that the military was conniving with armed herdsmen and militia groups.

The Defence Headquarters and the Nigerian Army had since denied the allegation.

Yusuf said, “My elder statesman, our retired Lt. Gen. T. Y. Danjuma, raised a fundamental and a very sensitive issue in this country. The issue he raised is that the military is colluding with militias in different parts of this country, causing a lot of insecurity, and that everybody in this country should stand up and take up arms to defend themselves.

“Mr. President, I want to use this opportunity to bring a motion tomorrow (Wednesday) by your leave and the leave of the Senate.”

Saraki, therefore, put the request to a voice vote and the nays were more than the ayes. Surprised by the response, he put the question to vote the second time.

Again, the nays were louder than the ayes, but the Senate President ruled that the ayes had it.

Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff, made the allegation while speaking at the maiden convocation of the Taraba State University, Jalingo, and the 10th anniversary of the institution on Saturday.

He had said, “There is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the state and of course, some rural states in Nigeria. We must resist it. We must stop it. Every one of us must rise up.

“Our Armed Forces are not neutral. They collude with the bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians. The Armed Forces guide their movements; they cover them. If you are depending on the Armed Forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.

“This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State and other rural states of Nigeria otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play.

“I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory and defend your state. Defend yourselves because you have no other place to go. God bless our country.”

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