Ortom And Our Deceitful Investigations

By Casmir Igbokwe

The Federal Government of Nigeria is very good at fruitless investigations after every serious crime. The recent failed attempt to assassinate Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State appears to be following that trend. After that incident, President Muhammadu Buhari, as expected, condemned the act and ordered open and transparent investigation. He said whoever was linked with the attack should be made to face the law.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, also regaled us with statements about extensive investigations into the circumstances surrounding the attack. A team of specialised investigators from the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Abuja, was said to have been drafted to Benue to help in the investigations.

Do we even need to go far to get the perpetrators of this dastardly act? If we are serious about getting to the root of this matter, we should begin our probe with the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM). This group purportedly claimed responsibility for the attack on Ortom. They not only regretted not gunning him down but also promised to get him when next they strike. In a statement reportedly signed by one Umar Shehu, FUNAM said, “Our courageous fighters carried out this historic attack to send a great message to Ortom and his collaborators: Wherever you are, once you are against Fulani long-term interest, we shall get you down.”

This may well be a fake statement. But I am not aware that any individual or organisation has debunked the statement. 

The next target for serious investigation should be the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore. Ortom himself had revealed that this group met recently and pencilled him down for elimination. Shortly after this meeting, this incident happened. But can the security agents arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who reportedly have security personnel attached to them?   

Well, Ortom is a target because he has been a thorn in the flesh of the Fulani herdsmen. He caused to be passed a law against open grazing in his state. Recently, he had an altercation with Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State. Governor Mohammed tried to justify the carrying of AK-47 rifle by herdsmen. The ensuing verbal missiles between him and Ortom were such that Ortom made a pronouncement that, should anything happen to him, Mohammed should be held responsible.

Somehow, you don’t blame Ortom. His people have actually suffered in the hands of herders who attack them at will and destroy their farms. Sometime in 2018, herdsmen killed about 73 of these farmers in Benue. At the mass burial of the farmers, an emotion-laden Paul Unongo lamented the lot of the middle Belt people in today’s Nigeria and warned that they would not tolerate such killings anymore. He threatened that they would mobilise and train their people into an army to defend themselves if the government could not protect them.

I remember that our President joined us in lamenting the killings then. He even asked the then Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to Benue and take charge of affairs. Idris forgot to relocate and the Commander-in-Chief, who was not aware that Idris flouted his order, also forgot to punish him. So far, we are still searching for the perpetrators.

Who is fooling whom? A group of renegades opened fire on a sitting governor and nearly killed him. If not that his security aides swiftly repelled the attack while he had to embark on an unplanned 1.5 kilometre race from his farm at Tyo-Mu community which he went to inspect, he would have been dead by now. And we are still talking about probe.

Are the security men telling us that they don’t know who attacked the governor? Do they also not know where bandits hibernate in some parts of this country? Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has been talking about granting amnesty to these bandits. He has been meeting with them in some forests where they inhabit. He even posed for photographs with them to drum home the fact that they are not hidden. What then are we waiting for to invade those forests and deal with those criminals? Or is there anything the government knows that we ordinary mortals do not know? Perhaps, they are afraid of the collateral damage that may occur as a result of the raid.

Whatever, I believe the security agencies can end this spate of insecurity if we stop deceiving ourselves. Sometimes, the sabotage is even from the security agents themselves. Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, made this assertion when he received his own baptism of gunfire last year. Boko Haram terrorists had ambushed and attacked him on his way to Baga town and Monguno all in Borno State to share food to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). They also attacked him near Baga town where they planted multiple improvised explosive devices on the road. The explosion that followed killed over 18 people. The third attack which occurred on Monguno-Maiduguri axis did not record any casualty. Though the military denied the charge of sabotage, suspicions of fifth columnists in the war against insurgency and banditry have lingered.

Sometimes, bandits spend hours in their attacking spree without any serious challenge from security agents. In 2018, for instance, gunmen reportedly attacked 11 villages in Plateau State for at least seven hours without intervention from security forces. They also destroyed over 50 houses and disappeared without a trace. How can banditry end with this type of impunity?

The police have been talking about mopping up of illegal firearms in the country. Another tale by moonlight! In 2018, they promised to mop up these weapons. Nothing happened. Two years after, they made similar promise. But rather than decrease, the proliferation of firearms has increased. Even the bandits in Zamfara forests are planning to acquire more sophisticated weapons from the proceeds of their crime.

Let’s hope the 23 new aircraft, mainly fighter aircraft, the Nigerian Air Force took delivery of early this year to prosecute the war against insurgency, and the 12 new Tucano fighter jets expected to be delivered by the United States later this year, will do the magic. Let’s hope that the boast of the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, that insurgency and banditry would soon be a thing of the past will come to fruition. And let’s hope that the clamour for restructuring, including state police, devolution of powers, electoral processes and many others, will become reality sooner than expected.

Re: Kwara hijab war

The noun, ‘uniform’, means or entails oneness in style and manner which a group is identified. A deviation from the norm is not only odd but it is also insulting to the majority of a group who are identified by a dress code. In a society like ours where there is a high belief in the primacy of religion, the hijab directive in ‘an unusual situation’ is not only a deviation from uniformity but it is also the height of insensitivity and thoughtlessness to the feeling of others. Hijab is okay for a Muslim school: it is a paradox in a secular institution.Gov AbdulRazaq is unusually adventurous in this dangerous mission. Casmir, your analysis has struck the required balance. That should be instructive to all and sundry.

-Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South, +2348037952470

If the ritual of going to Jerusalem & Mecca on pilgrimage has not changed people to be better Christians and Moslems, I wonder if and how putting on a hijab or being forced to do so will make a difference! Sincerely, if going on pilgrimage were to make any impact on the spiritual life of people all over the world, we would be achieving by now a sin-free world. But quite unfortunately, the reverse is simply the case. This calls to question the need for such pilgrimages and our strict adherence to different religious practices. Therefore, there is something inherently flawed and fundamental in our religiosity to account for the replication of vices in our clime and seriously undermine our spirituality. As it is, handling matters adjudged sensitive, delicate, incendiary & highly inflammable calls for caution!

-Anonymous, +2348037370484

Dear Casy, with all the prayer outfits dotting across our religious denominational landscape, what do we have? Endemic corruption-infested system! It is that same corruption that blinds a State Governor from recognising the sanctity of rules and regulations governing a corporate entity, in this case, schools. Schools do have dress codes, as uniform, with which their students are identified and this dates back to ages! Therefore, anything contrary to this age-long dress code system, especially in schools, amounts to willful violation which should be treated accordingly. Shikena!

-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.

Dear Casy, Governor Abdulrazak of Kwara state is stoking religious disharmony and bigotry over the use of hijab. How many Kwara schools make top twenty in national exams like WAEC, NECO, JAMB etc? Since the present governor assumed office, how many jobs and the level of infrastructural development has Abdulrazak put in place for the Kwarans? Let’s stop this religious tsunami he is stoking. Let the Moslem girls go to the schools where hijab is allowed and leave the Christian schools where hijab is banned. Let them concentrate in improving their educational skills. Hijab doesn’t add any value to their educational development.

-Eze Chima C Lagos, +2347036225495

Dear Casmir, you almost played the “Devil’s Advocate” with the caveat you used to end your balanced, well researched article on the Hijab issue in Kwara State. If Governor AbdulRazaq wants to leave a good legacy after public office, he should emulate Gov. Peter Obi and hand back Mission schools to the Missionaries as original owners, and pay them grants-in-aid, because education is right of the children. It is amazing that Muslim parents in Kwara will want their children to attend better run Mission Schools, and yet insist on their wearing Hijab, just for the few hours they stay in school daily. Perhaps, this is an extension of the mentality of Fulani herdsmen, who insist that their cows must destroy crops of farmers, else the farmers, and or land owners, can get killed.

-Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645

Dear Casmir, if a case is sub-judice it’s not advisable for any party to execute a decision it’s intending until the final conclusion. If those Muslims had been wearing hijabs to school before the case went to court; they could still continue until judgement is read. If not, they should wait till then.

– Cletus Frenchman Enugu, +234 909 538 5215

Casmir, the worst thing that has happened to Nigeria is myopic leadership. The mixture of religion, tribalism with politics is the major reason Nigeria has failed to reach her potentials. School is an institution just like police, army, navy etc. They have their rules and modus operandi which must be followed to nurture the students to be great future leaders. Unfortunately, the corrupt leadership is destroying them for selfish reasons. Those who want to wear hijab should attend Islamic schools. But if they must attend Christian schools let them play to the rules and stop heating up the system.

-Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922

MrIgbokwe, asking the CAN to allow the Muslims to wear hijáb pending the final judgement is not right. The status quo should be maintained.

-Anonymous, +2348132257608

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, March 29, 2021

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