We read in some of today’s national dailies, the statement credited to the headquarters of Jama’atul Nasir Islam, JNI regarding the reported comments of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on attacks in the state and we find it necessary to put the matter in its proper context.
In the statement, Secretary General of JNI, Dr Abubakar Khalid Aliyu accussed Governor Ortom of attributing the herdsmen attacks in the state to a continuation of the late Usman Danfodio’s jihad. The statement by JNI is inappropriate and it is designed to instigate religious hatred towards the Governor.
The impression being created by the organisation that Governor Ortom attacked the leadership of Nigerian Muslims in his comments is as misleading as it is a deliberate attempt to cast the Governor in bad light before Muslims in the country.
In the interview under reference, Governor Ortom who was responding to a specific question, only quoted the threats by leaders of Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association who had addressed press conferences and stated that the attacks on Benue State were a jihad and struggle for the control of natural resources in the Benue Valley. The groups also vowed that there would be more bloodshed in Benue State.
For instance, the Fulani Nationality Movement stated in a communique after a meeting in Kano on January 13, 2018, that they had embarked on a Jihad in Benue State.
“We notice the recalcitrant culture of the Tiv people as demonstrated even during the 1804 Jihad when they obstructed our ordained conquest of Nigeria…We call on all Fulanis to prepare for this Holy War. There is no going back. All over the world, Nigeria is the only country given to Fulani by God.” Details of the FUNAM communique are contained in the attached link: http://africanheraldexpress.com/…/summary-of-deliberations…/.
Another instance where the same group declared jihad on the country can be obtained in the following link: http://dailypost.ng/…/fulani-herdsmen-declare-jihad-letter…/.
Governor Ortom who referred to such statements including the ones quoted above from the Fulani Nationality Movement, reiterated his call for the arrest of the leadership of the groups to prevent further killings in the state.
The online version of the Governor’s interview aired during The Osasu Show in February this year to which JNI has made reference can be found on this link https://www.tostvnetwork.com/the-osasu-show-benue-killings…/.
Governor Ortom used the programme to draw the attention of security agencies to the inflammatory statements made by the said groups vowing to wage a jihad and mobilize their members to invade Benue and resist implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law passed by the state.
The Benue State Governor has enormous respect for the leadership of Jama’atul Nasir Islam and all other Nigerian Muslims and would not have launched an attack on the religion. We reject and condemn this negative branding of the Governor by JNI.
Since assumption of office, Governor Ortom has embraced and encouraged all religious groups in the state especially the Muslim community as evident in the cordial relationship between the present administration and leadership of the Islamic faith. It is therefore strange that the headquarters of Jama’atul Nasir Islam has chosen to assault the Governor’s reputation on a matter which has verifiable evidence unconnected with him.
Governor Ortom has demonstrated statesmanship and focus in handling the secuirty challenge in the state and he appreciates the contributions of all stakeholders particularly religious leaders both Christian and Muslim towards the return of peace to the affected parts of Benue State.
Chief Press Secretary
May 30, 2018.