BY NICHOLAS ABE
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, says it is injustice for the federal government and the security agencies to clamp down on the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) while the Fulani who carry AK-47 rifles are ignored.
Ortom, who has remained outspoken on the activities of some Fulani, especially those engaged in armed banditry and kidnappings, using cattle-herding as cover, said the treatment meted out to the Eastern Security Network (ESN), an arm of IPOB, and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, should be the same for Fulani people who carry guns.
He said this in an interview with BBC News Pidgin, according to The Punch.
“Why should they allow Fulani from foreign land to come to Nigeria to disturb us?” Ortom queried.
“No country will allow that kind of a thing. But here in Nigeria, it is allowed. And those Fulani people believe they can go anywhere and take possession of the place,” he said.
According to Gov Ortom, the free movement by foreign Fulanis into Nigeria cannot be allowed in countries like Ghana, South Africa and Kenya except they have travel documents.
He said what is happening in Nigeria and the failure to make arrests only proved what is allegedly being said by the Fulani people that they “want to take over the land and be leaders”.
“That’s why we are complaining that the leader at the top should not fold his arms but also talk about this issue. He should also make efforts to show that he’s our leader,” he said.
Ortom wondered why people were arrested when they tried to speak against the actions of the Fulani. He insisted that others apart from the Fulani should be allowed to bare their minds.
Said he: “It is not balanced that way, and that is what we are saying. Didn’t they arrest Kanu who leads IPOB? They arrested him and I think he ran away, if not he would have been jailed.
“So why are they not arresting these people in the forests? Don’t we have Air Force, soldiers, police, and the DSS?
“Not too long ago, they went after the Eastern Security Network. It is an illegal thing, and I support the government to clamp down on them.
“But why should they clamp down on them alone? Why should they leave the Fulani people to carry AK-47, AK-49 and even big guns that soldiers, police, and the DSS don’t carry in this country?
“Why should they do that only in the South? That is injustice.
“Let everybody be treated the same way.
“The same way they are treating Kanu, IPOB and the Eastern Security Network, let them treat gun-carrying Fulani too that way. Why are they leaving them alone?”
The military recently stormed the forests of Orlu in Imo State, on the invitation of the governor, Hope Uzodimma, and flushed out members of the ESN, who had set up camps there.
Even though the action was criticised as disproportionate use of force, Governor Uzodimma defended it, saying it was his duty to ensure that peace reigned in his state. “I have a responsibility to protect the lives of my people,” he said.