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Christian Leaders in Nigeria Decry “collapse of security” Following Attack on Governor

Governor Samuel Ortom of Nigeria’s Benue State

The attack on Governor Samuel Ortom of Nigeria’s Benue State over the weekend has exposed the level of insecurity in the West African nation, Christian leaders in the country have said.

In their Monday, March 22 statement, representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) pose, “If a state governor is unsafe despite all the security operatives in his convoy, then who is safe?”

“We are worried, sad, shocked, disappointed, and pained at the collapse of the security architecture of the government and the failure of those in charge to rise to the security challenges,” CAN representatives whose ecumenical entity includes the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) say.

Governor Ortum was reportedly ambushed by gunmen from the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) in his farm at Tyo-MU along the Makurdi-Gboko road on March 20.

In a March 22 news report, FUNAM’s leader, Umar Amir, say the group has the “unequivocal” intention is to kill the governor.   

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In the report, Mr. Amir who makes reference to the March 20 attack says, “Our courageous fighters carried out this historic attack to send a great message to Ortum and his collaborators: Wherever you are, once you are against Fulani long-term interest, we shall get you down. This is a clear warning. We hope those who take us for granted will get the indisputable message.”

In their March 22 statement signed by the Secretary General of CAN, Joseph Bade Daramola, the Church leaders say, “The shadowy group, the Fulani Nationality Movement that claimed responsibility has not been outlawed and the herdsmen leaders who publicly threatened the Governor are still going about their businesses as if they have done nothing unusual.”

They pose in reference to those who subscribe to FUNAM, “Is the government waiting till they have successfully carried out their evil and wicked enterprise? What are these people turning the country into, in this century?”

CAN representatives further pose, “If these murderous Fulani herdsmen are not Nigerians, as we are being told, why do our security agencies appear powerless before these criminals? Are they holding superior ammunition? Are they waiting till everyone results in self-defense with the attendant consequences?”

“The primary responsibility of any government is to protect the lives and property of the citizens,” they say, adding, “If President Muhammadu Buhari wanted his name to be written in gold, let him fix the security problems in this nation before his tenure is over.”

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They further call on the President Buhari-led administration “to roll out the list of names of the kingpins of those murderous herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits and terrorists in the prison and Police custody and those under trials.”

“As long as the government continues treating these criminals with kid gloves, so also will they continue operating with impunity!” CAN officials say in their March 22 statement.

In the statement, the Christian leaders acknowledge with appreciation President Buhari’s directive that an open and transparent investigation into the attack on the governor be conducted, and add, “We hope that the matter will not be swept under the carpet.”