The All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate in Benue State, Chief Dr Samuel Ortom, read with shock and dismay the statement and reports credited to Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, Director General of the Tarzoor/Ngbede Governorship Campaign Organization attributing the shooting and disruption of their rally in Gbajimba last Thursday.
Chief Dr Ortom denies the allegations outrightly and puts a strict demand on Professor Hagher who alleged to prove as demanded by law.
To rush to the conclusion that an unfortunate incidence which occurred in Gbajimba must be sponsored by the former Minister of State, Industry, Trade, and Investment is speculative, preposterous, and mischievous.
Moreover, the unfortunate development took place while Chief Dr Ortom was away for the APC campaign rally in Ado after he had visited Ogbadibo and Okpokwu earlier the same day.
He was still making inquiries and efforts to find out what really took place and who was responsible since the incidence occurred in his immediate constituency, when Professor Hagher came out with his unfounded allegations.
Chief Dr Ortom had hitherto held the former Ambassador in high esteem as an elder brother as well as statesman and had expected that since they related well at the personal level if such an issue arose and his name was mentioned he would raise the matter with him at that level before reaching a conclusion, if for nothing else, in order to satisfy the requirement of fair hearing.
Professor Hagher failed to fulfill that basic criterion hence his arrival at a conclusion that was at variance with the character and antecedents of Chief Dr Ortom.
The former Minister has always exhibited the disposition of a God-fearing and tenderhearted person involved in saving and caring for human lives through philanthropy as reflected by the Oracle Business Limited Foundation which he established.
He has also subscribed to efforts to secure peaceful polls by personally attending meetings for that purpose convened by the Mdzough U Tiv, Benue Catholic Bishops, and the Christian Association of Nigeria in the state.
Incidentally the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate was absent at two of the meetings.
When crises erupted between PDP and APC supporters in Tyeku, Gboko local government area earlier in the year, Chief Dr Ortom promptly and publicly condemned it and called for immediate cessation of hostilities.
He drew the attention of the supporters to the peace accord initiated by the three groups mentioned above and urged them to be on the same page with their political leaders.
The former Minister had also publicly condemned an attack on a governorship aspirant in Ugbema, Buruku local government area last year.
Up to this moment we are not aware that the PDP and its governorship candidate has issued any statement disapproving or condemning such acts.
Be that as it may, the responsibility of government is to secure lives and property and it is unfortunate when it shirks that responsibility as the current state administration does.
In case of a breach of the peace appropriate security agencies ought to take up the task of investigating and apprehending suspected culprits as is the case in civilized societies.
Citizens, groups and individuals also ought to report infringements on their fundamental rights to the appropriate authorities.
For example, when thugs attacked Rt. Hon Orker Jev at a church service recently he contacted the police who arrested the suspects and put them in custody for prosecution.
Although those who came to secure bail for the suspected miscreants were PDP chieftains, what Rt. Hon Jev did was the right approach rather than apportioning wholesale blame on all members of that party or a particular candidate.
Similarly, when Chief Dr Ortom received reports from supporters that his bill boards and other campaign materials had been destroyed in several towns across the state including the state capital where in many instances those of the PDP were mounted where his had been destroyed he wrote to the Commissioner of Police in the state and requested the apprehension of the culprits.
We believe that if the police and other security agencies do their work those who embark on such provocative errands in order to precipitate crisis can be located and arrested because they are not far fetched.
For instance, when Governor Gabriel Suswam visited Kartyo, also called Lobi, in Ushongo local government area last week, a well known PDP thug on his entourage made straight for the APC office in the settlement and started pulling down the party’s bill boards and posters in broad daylight.
When accosted by APC supporters who were in the office security personnel on the convoy quickly intervened and took him away.
Although he knows the direction from which those who pull down his campaign materials come, Chief Dr Ortom, has neither encouraged nor sponsored reprisals or commissioned anyone to attack anyone or disrupt any meetings or rallies.
What he does has been to preach peace at every opportunity.
He is a peace loving person who believes that power belonged to God who gave it to whosoever He wanted and that as such there was no need to resort to self help.
Chief Dr Ortom finds no pleasure in vile language and shall not patronize those seeking such.
Suffice it to submit that the PDP claim in the statement that the people have rejected the APC indicates that most members of that party are out of touch with the reality on ground and will soon be out of power.
But their leaders know it hence they dread elections and find every excuse to postpone their imminent, inevitable and irreversible defeat at the polls.
We hope Professor Hagher’s statement is not intended to serve notice and set the stage for the PDP to unleash unprecedented intimidation and violence on political opponents and the people in general.
All those who mean well for the state must resist such a development.
Whatever his intentions, Professor Hagher has ended up with an attempt to smear the hard earned reputation of Chief Dr Ortom by trying to link him with sponsorship of violence.
For this Chief Dr Ortom demands an unequivocal apology from the Professor.
Ortom/Abounu Governorship Organization.