President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday expressed disappointment and sadness at repeated attacks on him and his administration by Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom.
He said “lives of fellow citizens should not be desecrated by deploying them in political diatribe, which unfortunately appeared to be the intent of the string of emotional attacks and blame” by Ortom.
The President reminded the governor that since he took an oath to defend life and property of citizens, he remained committed to it.
He spoke through a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Ortom accused the President of having no interest in protecting Nigerians following recent killings in his state, particularly the attack on an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. Seven persons were killed in the attack by persons believed to be herders.
The President said it was unfortunate that “our own leaders put region against region, religion against religion, ethnic group against ethnic group and community against community” in the name of politics.
He advised political leaders to desist from making comments that further divide the country.
The President said the rising level of killings and other forms of violence in various parts of the country, called for further collaboration with security agencies.
The President expressed his condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the recent incidents in the state.
The statement reads: “The President states that the rising levels of incidents, especially the killings and violence in various parts of the country call for further collaboration with security agencies.
“He also states his disappointment and sadness to hear Governor Ortom make a litany of accusations against his person and his government following the recent unfortunate incidents in the state.
“No responsible government takes pleasure in such events as the killing of military men and innocent citizens taking refuge in an IDP camp.
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“President Buhari is deeply pained by the terrible acts of violence happening not only in Benue State but also in other parts of the country and expects that the law enforcement agencies will go to every possible extent to catch the perpetrators of these heinous acts and bring them to justice.
“The President continuously stresses that the strength of our country lies in our diversity in faith, culture, and traditions and attempts to sharpen the divide between northern and southern Nigeria, between Muslims and Christians, and between communities that have coexisted for centuries should be frowned upon and resisted.
“As Nigerians, we accuse colonial rulers of the policy of divide and rule. Today, it is our own leaders who put region against region, religion against religion, ethnic group against ethnic group and community against community.
“The future of Benue State and indeed that of the entire country lies in the harmony and the respect for law, order, and the constitution. It is the only way to achieve progress and development.
“While the President will continue to keep security, police and the armed forces on their toes to be on top of their act in troubled parts of the country, the situation in the states will greatly be helped by everyone working together because that is the foundation on which progress and prosperity can be achieved.
“Benue under the Ortom administration ought to cooperate with the Federal Government in the implementation of a number of national strategic programmes in addressing underlying issues militating against peace, progress and development.
“This can still get done when the interest of the people is placed above all other interests. A government voted into office by the people, should treat the people as its masters and not as its servants.”