Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has said the call by former Defence Minister, General Theophilus Danjuma, who at the weekend tasked Nigerians to protect themselves from rampaging armed bandits who he alleged have military backing, was misunderstood.
Ortom told State House Correspondents, shortly after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, over the killings in the state, noted that it is normal for people to defend themselves from any attack.
“There is a misrepresentation of what the former minister said. He did not tell anybody to take up arms. He only said that people should protect themselves. 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 that was what the minister was saying. There is need for people to arise to defend themselves; not necessarily using weapons that are banned.
“You can use a stick and disarm someone. Some years ago, I was able to disarm armed robbers with seven AK 47 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.”
Ortom, who said he went to brief the president on the happenings in the state, as well as remind him of his promise to rehabilitate 175,000 persons displaced (as a result of herdsmen attacks), currently taking refuge in eight Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, said he received assurances that that will be done; to enable them go back to their homes.
The governor insisted he was committed to implementing the Anti-Open Grazing law, to make provision for ranching, because ranching remains the global best practise and that Nigeria should not be an exception especially as land is decreasing because of increase in population.
Meanwhile, the Pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has called on the United Nations (UN) and President Muhammadu Buhari to launch full scale investigation into Danjuma’s allegation of army bias over herdsmen’s killings.
Rising from its special meeting held at the residence of its national leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, Ondo State, yesterday, Afenifere described the allegation as weighty and damning.
The association also noted that Danjuma’s allegation bcould be linked to ethnic cleansing.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, noted that if not well probed by the UN and Buhari, Danjuma’s statement could lead to serious security breaches and lack of trust among various ethnic groups in the country.