Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen have attacked Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
The incident happened on Saturday at Tyo Mu along Makurdi/Gboko road in Makurdi Local Government Area of the state.
Briefing journalists, Ortom, who described the gunmen as ‘herdsmen’, said about 15 of the attackers trailed him to the river bank where he was on foot to the farm.
Mr Ortom said he ran for “more than one and a half kilometres without stopping” to escape the assault.
The governor praised his security details that were just about six in number for responding quickly to the attack and repelled them promptly before providing cover for him to return to safety and his vehicle.
“My lawyer is going to make a petition against the leadership of MACBAN because they came out to target me and behind the scene, they are planning to eliminate me on my own land,” he said.
“If I can’t go to the farm as governor with entire security around me then who else can go to the farm? You can imagine the pains that we have here in Benue State.
“I appreciate the security personnel attached to me they were able to repel them and they could not have access to me,” Ortom stated.
He said troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, the police, and DSS have been mobilised to the forest between Tyo-Mu and Abinse where the armed herdsmen are camped to comb the area.
He also called for the arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who only last week, gathered in Yola, the Adamawa State capital to single him out for assassination.
Speaking further, Ortom asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the security chiefs to expect a formal petition from his lawyers and move quickly to arrest the situation.
Meanwhile there has been torrent of criticism on the attack of Governor Ortom. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday condemned the attack describing it as “reckless” and an “assassination attempt”.
“The party calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to put machinery in motion by ordering an immediate manhunt, arrest and prosecution of the assailants and beef up security around the governor,” the PDP said in a statement signed by spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan.
“The PDP expresses shock that the assailants trailed Governor Ortom and opened fire on him and his aides along Makurdi/Gboko road, in an attack that by every indication is aimed to assassinate the governor.
“Our party is worried that this brazen attempt at Governor Ortom’s life is coming on the heels of his outspokenness in exposing those allegedly behind the incessant attacks of communities in the state and demanding that the Federal Government live up to its responsibility on the protection of life and property in the state.
“The PDP fears for the life of Governor Ortom and we urge Nigerians to hold the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration responsible over its failure to take a decisive step to check the escalated insecurity and brazen attacks on innocent Nigerians.
“The PDP however calls on Governor Ortom not to be deterred by the attack but to remain courageous and at alert, at all times while providing leadership to the people of his state.
“The party also calls on the people of Benue State to be calm and vigilant while providing useful information to security agencies to flush bandits and criminal elements out of the state and other parts of the country.”
On his part, the Rivers state Governor Nyesom Nwike warned, “If you kill Ortom, then be prepared to bury Nigeria,” according to a statement signed by his spokesman, Kelvin Ebiri.
“If anything happens to Governor Ortom, the Federal Government will be held responsible and they should be prepared that there will be no more Nigeria.”
According to the statement, Wike also recalled how the former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, Major General Jamil Sarham, and All Progressives Congress chieftains had concluded plans to assassinate him during the 2019 general election.
He added that the growing trend where the lives of incumbent governors are brazenly threatened was disturbing.