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Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to redeem their battered image by rescuing Nigeria from the throttlehold of bandits, kidnappers, and terrorists, who were having a field day in the country. Ortom said this was the painful reality that the president’s handlers did not want Nigerians to talk about.

The governor spoke yesterday, in reaction to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Ortom said in the statement, “Each time I speak about the dreadful manner the Muhammadu Buhari administration has handled the security situation in the country, his media aides and hangers-on come out attacking my personality, instead of addressing the issues I raised.

“The latest of such attacks by the presidency came from the garrulous Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, who, rather than tell Nigerians the steps taken by his principal to end the unprecedented bloodshed perpetrated by armed Fulani terrorists, chose to hurl insults on the governor.

“If the presidency assumes that I am wrong about my statements regarding the failure of the present government to tackle insecurity, I urge them to hold a referendum to get the feelings of Nigerians towards their ineptitude, complicity, and clear lack of commitment and sincerity in protecting the people.

“It is sad and unfortunate that the likes of Garba Shehu have zero sympathy for the families of those being killed daily by Fulani terrorists. As long as their meal ticket is secured, they tell Mr President to go to bed, that all is well with the country.

“Garba is a man, whose loyalty is for sale to the highest bidder. He sings in high praise of the president today, because that is his current source of livelihood. He will be the first to go against the president once the tables turn.

“He has done that before with other prominent Nigerians, whom he served. A man who betrays his former benefactor for a new pot of porridge does not possess the moral right to question a patriotic leader like Governor Ortom.

“Shehu blew the opportunity to prove me wrong that I had raised a false alarm about the worsening security situation in the country. Hundreds of our citizens are held captive by terrorists in the forests. I expected Shehu to tell Nigerians what efforts the federal government has made to release the hostages.

“Was it a false alarm from me that led to the terrorists’ attack on the convoy of President Buhari in his home state, Katsina? Or was it a movie acting, when terrorists broke into Kuje Correctional Centre right in the heart of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, and released their colleagues?

“It is unfortunate that till date, no officer has been arrested or questioned for the lapses and clear cases of complicity by the security operatives attached to the Kuje facility. There are reports of over six jailbreaks in the last seven years under the Buhari administration. If that is not a crying shame of failure on the part of the presidency, we wonder what else qualifies as failure.

“Everyone is aware how the Buhari administration descends heavily and brutally on other groups like Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) or Sunday Igboho, who have been declared as terrorists with their members arrested and incarcerated, but the same government treats Fulani terrorists with kid gloves.”

The governor further stated, “Garba Shehu must be reminded that I speak the minds of most Nigerians on specific areas of incompetence or deliberate complicity by the federal government in the heinous crimes committed against citizens by armed Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists. Instead of taking me on those points, Shehu went chasing vain and mundane matters in a desperate attempt to malign me, which he failed woefully.

“If I raised a false alarm, why have the Fulani terrorists, who are veiled as herdsmen, continued to kidnap and kill Nigerians unchallenged? How many of the terrorists and bandits have been apprehended and prosecuted? The Buhari administration cannot extricate itself from complicity regarding the evil visited on citizens of this country. The presidency has failed the integrity test and should rather accept its failure, apologise to Nigerians, and seek help to salvage the situation.”

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