President Muhammadu Buhari has clarified that he was not aware that Inspector General Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris did contrary to his directive that he should remain in Benue State until bloodletting between herdsmen and farming which led to massacre in the state recently.
Buhari, who was informed in Makurdi that Idris violated his order that he should move base to the state, at the height of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers, claimed that he was not aware that the IGP did not spend 24 hours during his visit to the Benue on his directive and that Idris action was contrary to his order.
Speaking at a town hall meeting held in the state on Monday, the president after learning from the people of the state that Idris did not even spend 24 hours in the state, informed gathering that he was not briefed on the action but would revisit the action.
“I am not aware that the I-G did not spend 24 hours in the state as directed by me, I am getting to know this in this meeting.”
He justified that the meeting was not the best place to expose inefficiency of his appointees, just as he appealed to the Benue people to exercise restraint and live in peace with neighbours.
Buhari informed farmers, herdsmen and government officials including senators and members of the House of Representatives, that he was doing his best to tackle insecurity in the land and denied insinuations that he overlooked the killings that happened in Benue, saying he is genuinely worried over them.
According to him, “the governor and I, and others here know that we will leave one day, but the relationship between farmers and herders will continue. I urge you to keep in touch with them and advise them to live peacefully. Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups with different cultures and nobody can question God for putting us together.”
The president, while noting that he was not in the habit of publicly rebuking his appointees as many would desire, said that he preferred to quietly “read the riot act” as he did to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) when the Benue attacks began.
He disclosed that he had shared the IGP’s security report on the Benue crisis with Senatorial representatives, George Akume and Barnabas Gemade, who are from the state.
Recalling his civil war era memories with military officers from Benue State, he noted that his nostalgic experience with such persons would never allow him to do harm to the state.
It noted that rice imports had dropped by 90 per cent and that the states were massively involved in rice cultivation.
Buhari, after commending successful efforts of Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, an indigene of Benue State, whom he described as a great asset in my government, said his administration would continue to empower farmers with loans by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Just as he expressed satisfaction on agricultural policy of his administration which has led to 90 per cent reduction in rice importation, he lauded efforts of Ebonyi, Lagos, Kebbi, Jigawa and Benue States on same development which he noted had extremely proven well.”
The president enjoined people of the to pray for the economy to improve, noting that he would not make any promises during this trip. He, however, stressed that, “When coming back on campaign, if coming back on campaign, I may promise.”
However, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom appealed to the president to upgrade ongoing military exercise in the state tagged ” Ayem A kpatema” to an operation to effectively curb herdsmen attacks.
”If the exercise is upgraded to an operation, it will assist greatly in ending the incessant attacks and senseless killings by herdsmen,” he said
He urged Benue people to exercise restraints and learn to live in peace with other people and that other states in the federation were now involved in massive cultivation of rice.
The governor affirmed his call for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore for being responsible for the killings, just as he maintained that ranching was the best option for cattle breeding in the country.
He urged federal government to take over the management of the Benue University Teaching Hospital, College of Education Katsina-Ala and Benue Polytechnic Ugbokolo.
Although, pepresentative of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Benue Chapter, Shettima Mohammed, denied involvement of the group in the Benue attacks and claimed that the association was peace loving and the exact opposite of its public presentation by government officials.