From Bello Wakili (Abuja)
President Muhammadu Buhari says it is sad and disappointing that Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State accuses him and his administration, following the recent unfortunate incidents in the state.
In a statement, the Presidency notes that no responsible government takes pleasure in the killing of soldiers and other innocent citizens taking refuge in an Internally Displaced People’s camp.
It states that President Buhari is deeply pained by the terrible acts of violence happening not only in Benue State, but also in other parts of the country, and expects that law enforcement agencies will go to every possible extent to catch the perpetrators of the heinous acts and bring them to justice.
The Presidency cautions that the lives of citizens should not be desecrated by deploying them in political, disrespectful tone, which unfortunately appeares to be the intent of the string of emotional attacks and blame laid at the doors of the President for those killings by Governor Ortom.
The statement, signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, says the rising levels of incidents, especially the killings and violence in various parts of the country calls for further collaboration with security agencies to curb its recurrence.
It emphasises that President Buhari took an oath to defend the life and property of every citizen, a duty he takes seriously and is committed to ensuring.
The statement says President Buhari continuously stresses that the strength of Nigeria lies in her diversity in faith, culture, and traditions, and attempts to sharpen the divide between north and south, between Muslims and Christians, and between communities that have co-existed for centuries should be frowned upon and resisted.
It stresses that the future of Benue State, and that of the entire country lies in harmony and the respect for law, order, and the constitution.
The Presidency warns that citizens, regardless of their affiliations, who either incite, sponsor, or are proven to be abettors of the escalating atrocities will face the law squarely and be answerable for their crimes against fellow Nigerians.
It says while the President will continue to keep security, police and the armed forces on their toes to be on top of their act in troubled parts of the country, the situation in the states will greatly be helped by everyone working together, noting that such is the foundation on which progress and prosperity can be achieved.
The statement says Benue, under the Ortom administration, ought to co-operate with the Federal Government in the implementation of a number of national strategic programmes in addressing underlying issues militating against peace, progress, and development.
It advises that such can still be done when the interest of the people is placed above all other interests.
The statement says President Buhari expresses his condolences to the families of citizens, who lost their loved ones in the recent spate of killings in Benue State.