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Ortom debunks Sanusi ‘s allegations of genocide against him

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…. Says acussasions were to set him up

By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has dismissed the write up against him signed by the deposed Emir of Kano Lamido Sanusi and other 51 personalities of the Fulani extraction to Président Buhari accusing him of being responsible for the recent killing of some pastoralists at Akwanaja, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State via a bomb attack.

Ortom also revealed that Sanusi and Co. tried to link the Benue State Livestock Guards with the killings, claiming that the pastoralists were bombed on their way from Benue to Nasarawa after they had retrieved their cattle.

He further stated that the accusations made against him was a desperate attempt to set him up for hatred, vilification and attacks.

Governor Ortom made this known Makurdi while addressing a press conference in response to the malicious write up against him by the Fulani elites, explained that the group maliciously accused him of carrying out genocide against pastoralists and added that the dethroned Emir did not stop at that, he made a video in Hausa in which he maligned his personality and called on all Fulanis to consider him as their enemy while urging those in Benue State to vote against him during the coming elections.

Ortom said he consider these allegations and blackmail targeted at his person and the Government of Benue State as part of a grand conspiracy by enemies of the state to eliminate him Since 2017 when he enacted the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law.

“I have escaped seven assassination attempts. Those behind the evil plots have not hidden their motive. They have made me an enemy for choosing to stand with my people and defending their rights to life and freedom.

“You will recall that on the 20th of March, 2021, I was attacked at Tyo-Mu along Makurdi-Gboko road by herdsmen. After the attempt on my life, a group named Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) issued a press statement taking responsibility for the assassination attempt. They said I escaped because of a technical error, but that I wouldn’t be lucky another time. They vowed to get me at all costs. The recent utterances of some personalities such as Lamido Sanusi have revealed the true identities of those behind the sinister agenda to eliminate me. But my life is in the hands of God and only He can permit anything evil to come my way.” Ortom stressed.

The Governor further explained that Benue State Livestock Guards operate within the boundaries of Benue State and are not permitted by law to bear arms and their primary function is to help the conventional security agencies in enforcing the law which protects both the farmer and the herder.

He noticed that the Guards have become target of attacks by armed herdsmen with many of them killed in cold blood. Benue State Livestock Guards do not rustle cattle. They legitimately impound cattle which are seen violating the law and take them to the quarantine unit for the period stipulated by the law.

” Let me remind those castigating me unjustifiably that nomadic herdsmen attacks on farmers in Benue state date back to 2009; however, 2011 was when the attacks assumed a dreadful dimension with widespread killings, injury and displacement of farmers from their ancestral homes. Benue State came under attack nearly 50 times before the law was enacted. My predecessor, Senator Gabriel Suswam was nearly killed by Fulani herdsmen in 2014 at Uikpan on his way to Torkula village in Guma local government area to see the damage caused by herdsmen in the community.

” When I was voted as Governor in 2015, my people who are predominantly farmers requested for a policy that would not only end hostilities and attacks on them by nomadic herdsmen, but would also allow both parties to peacefully coexist. As a result, the State Executive Council sent a bill to the State House of Assembly and the “Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bill” was passed by the House of Assembly on 4th May, 2017 after public hearings were held in the three Senatorial Districts of the state. The law was enacted by representatives of the people in the Benue State House of Assembly, in exercise of its powers as provided for by Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Part 2 of the Second Schedule reinforces the power of the State House of the Assembly providing that “a House of Assembly may make laws for the State with respect to industrial, commercial or agricultural development.

” I publicly assented to the law in the presence of Benue State stakeholders on the 22nd of May, 2017. A six-month moratorium was allowed to create awareness about the Law and to enable those interested in establishing ranches to make proper arrangements to embrace what is considered as the global best practice of animal husbandry. Enforcement of the Law began on 1st November, 2017. The law does not target any ethnic group. It is meant to bring peace between herders and farmers.” The Governor explained.

He stated that It is public knowledge that right from the day the law came into effect, umbrella bodies of nomadic herders boldly came out with impunity and said they would never obey the law and vowed to mobilize Fulanis across the West African sub-region to invade Benue State and stop implementation of the law.

” They actualized their threats on the eve of the 2018 new year when they carried out simultaneous attacks on Guma and Logo local government areas killing 73 people whom we painfully gave a mass burial in Makurdi on January 11, 2018.

“Fulani herdsmen attacks on my people in the last couple of years have caused a devastating humanitarian crisis resulting in the killing of over 6,000 Benue people and the displacement of about two million others with many living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. Our people have suffered the organized genocide masked in terrorism, not because they do not know their attackers. Benue people know those who are visiting them with unprovoked violence and killings, but as law-abiding citizens of Nigeria, we have chosen to sustain our belief in the conventional security agencies of this country.

“Now, the enemy has turned round to accuse our people of being the aggressors. Their aim is to blame the victim in order to launch more attacks on the state. On the 31st of January, 2023, armed herders blocked the Makurdi-Naka road and killed innocent people including the Divisional Police Officer of Gwer-West local government area of Benue State.” Ortom said.

Ortom advised the persons who wrote to the President claiming to have the interest of Nigeria at heart to stop playing politics with security matters.

He warned the conspirators that he can never be intimidated by any group of people being knowledgeable enough that it is only God that has exclusive power over his life and no living creature can take away his life unjustly if God doesn’t permit.

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NASENI lauds Gov. Idris for allocating land for Agric. Institute construction

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The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI), has commended Gov. Nasir Idris of Kebbi for donating 10 hectares of land to the agency for the construction of an Agricultural Machinery Development Institute in the state.
The Director of Procurement of the Agency, Dr Muhammad Aliyu, gave the commendation after formal allocation of the land to  NASENI by officials of state government on Sunday in Birnin Kebbi.
Aliyu, who thanked Idris for providing the land at a choice area, explained that the  project would commence within the next two weeks.
H e assured that all engineering, architectural, civil and electrical designs had been completed.
”We have the bill of quantity ready and every approval needed from the government for the project has been obtained,” he said.
The director affirmed that funding for the project had been captured in the 2024 appropriation bill already assented to by  President Bola Tinubu.
”We will start with what we can accommodate this year and we will continue next year.
“We have funds to begin the basic infrastructural construction,” he assured.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Alhaji Dahiru Zaki, who led other state government officials to hand over the 10 hectares of land to NASENI, explained that the land was earmarked for the agency in 2022 for the construction of the agricultural machinery center.
”The machinery center is to serve as a Regional Office for the production of agricultural equipment and we are happy that today, we have handed over the land to NASENI.
“I believe that Kebbi was selected in the North-West region because of its huge potentials in agriculture, particularly rice production and other crops,” he said.
Zaki expressed appreciation for the governor’s  kind gesture to the agency, tailored to provide job opportunities to youths and further bolster agricultural production in the state.
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Lassa Fever outbreak at Army Hospital sparks response 

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The recent outbreak of Lassa fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, prompted a collaborative response with Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) and Federal Ministry of Health.

Prof. Reuben Eifediyi, Chief Medical Director, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, and lead of the response team, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), confirmed that Lassa Fever was responsible for the death of three health workers and one patient at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, (44 NARHK).

Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases at the hospital sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital, Kano, were confirmed for Lassa Fever.

While 25 close contacts of all the cases were being monitored and were placed on prophylactics (preventive medication). 

Eifediyi said that the outbreak resulted in the deployment of a specialised emergency response team, which was made up of experts in Lassa fever management and infection prevention.

He said that though there were initial challenges, including inadequate resources and staffing, the response team successfully contained the outbreak through real-time laboratory testing, isolation, and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Real-time PCR testing was conducted, leading to the identification and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Three confirmed cases were successfully treated and discharged, with no further fatalities, “ he said.

He said that the incident underscored the importance of effective partnerships and rapid mobilisation of expertise in addressing public health emergencies.

He said that health workers at the hospital went through training on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), measures.

He recommended structural improvement, staffing, training, equipment provision, and hygienic measures.

He also made recommendations for capacity building and the establishment of a biosafety molecular laboratory at the hospital.

 Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, chest pain.

In severe case, there are unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

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Why some airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace – NAMA

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Many airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace because of difficulties encountered in communication with air traffic controllers, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) confirmed on Sunday in Lagos.

Its Managing Director, Mr Farouk Umar, told newsmen at Ikeja that the agency was consequently eyeing more investments to rejuvenate the communication systems to match emerging air traffic trends.

He explained that there was the need to improve the weak communication system, which had been demand-saturated as the industry grew and more routes were opened.

He said huge investments were required of the Federal Government as more routes opened needing more stations to have signals to cover the entire country.

He added that the presidency recently budgeted N40 billion to address some of the issues at the airports, but the money had not been accessed.

Umar assured that as soon as money was made available, the agency would tackle critical safety challenges at the various airports.

“The entire communication network has been re-designed to ensure that every blind spot is covered because if one system fails today, air traffic controllers would not notice.

“We realised also that our radios are working well and well-positioned and we have addressed the challenges we met on ground, but then, we are still having issues.

“The issues have nothing to do with our radios, but with electricity supply which had been a national challenge that government had been working assiduously to fix.

“We have decided to deploy solar energy to some of our facilities to complement electricity supply from the national grid and from generators so that they can function well,’’ he said.

Umar noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation frowned at even a second’s blackout at any airport and Nigeria could not afford to flout the regulation.

“For an average electronic system, the lifespan is about 10 years. Most of the communications electronics at the airports have been working for the past 15 years to 20 years. Their performance would be below standard, expectedly.

“We are replacing some of the equipment and we have done almost 80 per cent. The contractors are still working, however,’’ he assured.

Umar also told newsmen that Terminal Control Centres (TRACON) were still having challenges because since 2014, there had not been enough spare parts to fix the obsolete equipment there.

“The Federal Government has approved the modernisation of the TRACON system. 15 per cent of the fund has been paid and we are hopeful that more installations will start soon.

“We are also hopeful that at the end of it all, the system will go back to optimal performance,’’ he said.

Umar lamented that NAMA had been charging airlines N11,000 as navigation fee per flight since 2008 when fares for local flights were N16,000, whereas airfares had risen to N150,000.

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