The Presidency on Wednesday challenged Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State to either name the military personnel who told him that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered security forces not to move against the herdsmen responsible for recent violence or forever shut up.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, threw the challenge in a statement titled “Ortom’s Lies Insult Nation’s Security System”.
He described the governor’s claims as not only “disappointing” and “ridiculous” but “patently untrue.”
The presidential spokesman said in a period of heightened insecurity, the politicians should be working to bring people closer together, not risking further violence by seeking to further divide along ethnic or religious lines.
He likened his strategy to those being used by “opportunistic” politicians who attempted to sow discord amongst his country’s people in the run-up to an election.
The statement further read: “In a recent interview, the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, claimed that high-ranking security personnel had informed him personally that President Buhari had ordered security forces not to move against the Fulani herdsmen responsible for recent violence. These ridiculous claims are patently untrue. If he is as brave as he claims to be, let him name names. Let him name the military personnel who told him this story or forever shut up.
“It is disappointing that Ortom, who in the same interview describes himself as a child of God who believes in being lawful and respects the Nigerian constitution, felt the need to spread such a divisive lie. In a period of heightened insecurity, our politicians should be working to bring us closer together, not risking further violence by dishonestly seeking to further divide us along ethnic or religious lines.
“Fortunately, the cheap, dog whistle politics behind Ortom’s falsehood are plain for all to see. He is not the first opportunistic politician who has attempted to sow discord amongst his country’s people in the run-up to an election; sadly, he will not be the last.
“The Nigerian people will see him for what he is: an opportunist flaunting his wares as the country prepares to elect its next president; a man fond of posing in military fatigue who expects the country to believe Nigeria’s top security personnel would share high-level confidential information with him. To be clear: they do not.”