President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday was surprised that Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, disobeyed his order to relocate to Benue State during the crisis.
He stated this at a meeting with stakeholders in Makurdi, during his visit to Benue State.
Shortly after 73 persons were killed in January following clashes between farmers and herdsmen, Buhari had asked Idris to relocate to Benue.
But during the meeting with stakeholders, Buhari was told that Idris did not spend up to 24 hours in the state. He added
Buhari, who expressed shock, explained that he did the needful by ordering the IG to relocate to the state.
“But I did not know that the IG did not stay in the state. I am getting to know this at this meeting. I am quite surprised,” he said.
He, however, stated that the meeting was not the best place to expose the inefficiency of his appointee.
Buhari told the meeting that he was doing his best to tackle insecurity in the land.
He expressed the hope that farmers and herdsmen would continue to coexist in the state, urging residents to learn to live together peacefully.
Buhari, however, denounced the insinuation that he abandoned the people of the state at their trying periods, saying, “I have friends here; there is no way I can deliberately overlook what is happening here and other parts of the country.
“Let me appeal to our people to apply more restraints. The relationship between farmers and herders will continue; it behoves us to keep encouraging ourselves to live together peacefully.”
He said his administration had cut down on importation of rice by 90 per cent because many states of the federation were cultivating rice in large quantity.
Buhari stated further that while he had taken note of what all stakeholders had said, he would not make any promise.
Earlier, Ortom had intimated the President that the state had lost many lives after the mass burial of 73 victims of the New Year attack.
“Sixty-five more people have been killed after the mass burial of 73 persons; 26 more were killed in Okpokwu with over 5,000 displaced in Mbatoho community.
“As of now, 170,000 people live in IDP camps across the state. Sixty per cent of IDPs are school children who should be in school.
“Yesterday (Sunday), two police officers were killed in Guma. Our appeal is that the Federal Government should compensate the people who have been displaced.”
Ortom denied the report that the state government owned militia, saying, “Ghana is the one that is known to own a militia and he has been declared wanted with N50m bounty placed on him.
“We hope the Ayem Akpatuma (an ongoing military operation in the state) can be upgraded from an exercise to an operation because the herdsmen have taken over the villages and our food has become feed for their cattle. If Ayem is upgraded, Ghana will be tracked down.”
Ortom also appealed to the President to order the immediate arrest and prosecution of leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who he accused of the killings.
But the representative of the Miyetti Allah, Benue chapter, Shettima Mohammed, denied responsibility for the Benue attacks.
He said the association was peace-loving unlike its public presentation by government officials.
The Chairman, Benue State Traditional Council, Tor Tiv, Prof. Ayatse, appealed to the President to support the anti-open grazing law of the state.
A second republic minister of steel, Paul Unongo, told the President to do something about the activities of killer herdsmen.
“If you don’t do something now, you will discover that you will end up having a terrorist country. The governor is not your enemy. He is very competent and loyal to you.”
The state Chairman of the state Christian Association of Nigeria, Akpen Leva, demanded compensation to rebuild about 500 churches burnt during herdsmen attacks in the state.
However, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari was reported to have told the stakeholders in Benue that he reprimanded the IG when the killings in Benue started.
He was quoted to have said he did not do that in the open as many would desire because he was not in the habit of rebuking his appointees publicly.
“The President disclosed that he shared the IGP’s security report on the Benue crisis with Senators George Akume and Barnabas Gemade from the state.
“He appealed to leaders of various groups in the state to convince their constituents that the Federal Government is doing its best to end the recurring attacks in various parts of the country,” the statement read in part.
While thanking God for the good rain, the successful efforts of the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, an indigene of Benue State, the President said his administration would continue to empower farmers with loans.
Expressing delight that the agricultural policy of his administration had led to 90 per cent reduction in rice importation, he commended Ebonyi, Lagos, Kebbi, Jigawa and Benue states for “doing extremely well.”
The Peoples Democratic Party, the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights and the National Conscience Party have berated Buhari over the IG’s refusal to relocate to Benue State.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said Buhari was not in charge of the All Progressives Congress government.
Secondus said that because the President had been far from the people, the cabal in the Presidency had hijacked him.
He said, “Buhari is not in charge of anything. He does not have genuine people around him.
“How can a President give a directive and it is ignored? Yet he did not know. How would he know when he surrounds himself with sycophants?”
Also, the PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that Buhari’s visit to Benue State came several months after the massacre of Nigerians.
It said that the visit was needless, adding that it merely served as a billboard of his (Buhari) administration’s gross insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians.
The PDP said President Buhari’s visits to troubled states, particularly Benue, served no sincere purpose.
It asked, “What is the purpose of the condolence visit when it does not come from the heart but orchestrated to deceive and beguile the people ahead of the 2019 general elections?
According to the party, after the killings in Benue State, Buhari summoned the leaders of the state and the bereaved to Abuja, rather than complying with the age-long tradition of Africans by visiting the state.
The PDP stated, “Months after their tears have dried, the Presidency is now trying to use them for a political posturing by staging a cosmetic condolence visit just to score a political point.”
It asked the President to tell Nigerians the steps taken by his government to ensure adequate protection for the people and to end the daily bloodletting in the land.
On his part, an aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, in his twitter handle, said Buhari did not know what was happening in the country.
Omokri wrote, “Dear President @NAkufoAddo, come and see the person who wants to help you fight corruption in Ghana. A man who is clueless about happenings in his own government wants to teach Ghana how to govern!”
The CDHR said Buhari’s order which was disobeyed should make heads roll in his administration.
The CDHR President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said the act showed “a dysfunctional government from the highest level of operation which was the commander-in-chief.”
He said, “If the commander-in-chief is just realising that his command was not obeyed one month after, there is something wrong with the system. By now, heads should have rolled in this system.”
The National Chairman of the NCP, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, said the President’s claim that he was unaware of the refusal of the IGP to comply with his directive was unacceptable.
Tanko, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said, “How can the President not be aware? If indeed he is not aware; it goes to show how this administration is being run.
“With all due respect, if the man (IGP) has not done what he is supposed to do as instructed, it simply means he is undermining your authority and as President you should know what to do.”
Also the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership said the President must demand an explanation from the IG.
The CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “The President does not have to take any impulsive action. He must hear from the IG. To take what the state government and members of the communities are saying may not be in the direction of fairness and justice.”
Responding, the APC said the opposition party should learn to live with the fact that Buhari was a forthright leader.
The APC said the President spoke from the heart and was sincere about issues.
This, the APC said, should not be misconstrued to mean the President was not in charge.
The National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, spoke in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.
Abdullahi said, “What the President said with regard to the IG shows the level of sincerity of Mr. President.
“It takes a very honest and courageous man to say what the President said and I am sure the President is ready to deal with the situation arising from that.
“If the opposition see things differently you can’t blame them. They are looking for anything, just anything to bounce back to relevance but Nigerians are wiser.”