Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Saturday called on the Federal Government to stop intimidating patriotic Nigerians who raise concern over insecurity in the country.
Ortom described as unfortunate the response of the Presidency to the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah’s address to the United States Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding the wave of insecurity in the country.
Kukah had in a virtual address before the American lawmakers faulted the handling of the security situation in Nigeria by the President, Muhammadu Buhari .
The cleric also accused Buhari of nepotism in key appointments, saying his regime favoured Muslims over Christians.
The governor, in a statement titled, ‘I stand with Bishop Kukah,’ issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said as a patriotic Nigerian, he would have said similar things if he were to address the same audience.
The governor reminded the Presidency that Nigeria today was practising democracy which had no room for repression and dictatorship.
He explained that the country’s Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens, “unlike a military regime which suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.
Ortom said Kukah was right when he stated that nepotism had been elevated above federal character by the present administration.
The statement read in part, “He (Ortom) expects the Presidency to rather be worried that Nigeria is ranked as the most terrorised nation in Africa with an average of over 2,000 deaths per year on account of terrorism. He emphasises that the combative approach the Presidency has adopted in engaging citizens on issues will not solve the problems confronting the country.”
The governor said Bishop Kukah was not the first Nigerian to address a foreign audience on the security situation in the country, recalling that in February 2015, Buhari, was at the time the candidate of All Progressives Congress when he delivered a speech at Chatham House in London, where he said, “Boko Haram has sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, killing more than 13,000 of our nationals.”
The statement added, “The President went on to announce to the world on that occasion that apart from the Civil War era, Nigeria had never been more insecure in the country’s history.”