The Benue State government has refuted allegation by former governor George Akume that Governor Samuel Ortom was recruiting and arming a militia group for the 2019 elections, saying it was false, grievous, unsubstantiated and seditious.
In a statement issued by Ortom’s Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, he revealed that Akume, who is leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue, had while briefing the media in Abuja at the weekend, accused Ortom of sponsoring a militia group for the 2019 elections, among other claims.
But in a swift response, Agerzua said the allegation defies logic, especially against the background of Ortom’s decision to mop up small arms in the state through a well articulated Amnesty Programme, which Akume himself earlier celebrated.“If the governor had the intention of arming a militia group as Akume had suggested, the cruel invasion and wanton killings by armed Fulani militia provided an ample opportunity to do so,” he said.
He noted that on the contrary, Ortom resisted the temptation to avoid turning the state into a theatre of bloodbath, adding: “If the governor disarmed hoodlums in the face of attacks against his people, why would he need to re-arm them for an election he is confident of winning?
“Governor Ortom won election popularly and overwhelmingly in 2015 without the aid of any militia and there is no need whatsoever for him to resort to any illegal means to win reelection next year.”Agerzua said rather, it was Akume, who as governor between 1999 and 2003, unleashed militias to perpetrate mayhem and electoral violence in Tarka, Kwande and Gwer East local councils of the state.
“Governor Ortom has no need of a militia group. Yet, there is cause to worry as Akume, who is reviving his old militia structure, is pointing fingers at the opposite direction to distract members of the public,” the statement added. He, however, charged Akume and anyone with proof of any wrong doing against the Ortom government to make public their claims with concrete evidence.