The Presidency has expressed disappointment and sadness over accusations being levelled against President Muhammadu Buhari by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue following recent killings of soldiers and innocent citizens in the state.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this in a statement in Abuja.
According to him, no responsible government takes pleasure in such events as the killing of the military and that of innocent citizens taking refuge in an Internally Displaced People’s camp.
Mr Shehu said the president said he was deeply pained by the terrible acts of violence happening not only in Benue but also in other parts of the country.
He again directed members of the law enforcement agencies to go to every possible extent to catch the perpetrators of these heinous acts and bring them to justice.
The presidential aide said: “The lives of fellow citizens should not be desecrated by deploying them in political diatribe which unfortunately appeared to be the intent of the string of emotional attacks and blame laid at the doors of the President for those killings by Gov. Ortom.
”President Buhari took an oath to defend the life and property of every citizen, a duty he takes seriously and is committed to ensuring.
”Those citizens regardless of their affiliations, who either incite, sponsor or are proven to be abettors of these atrocities will face the law squarely and be answerable for their crimes against our fellow citizens and nation.
”President Buhari continuously stresses that the strength of our country lies in our diversity in faith, culture, and traditions and attempts to sharpen the divide between northern and southern Nigeria, between Muslims and Christians, and between communities that have coexisted for centuries should be frowned upon and resisted.
”As Nigerians, we accuse colonial rulers of the policy of divide and rule. Today, it is our own leaders who put region against region, religion against religion, ethnic group against ethnic group and community against community.
”The future of Benue and indeed that of the entire country lies in harmony and the respect for law, order, and the constitution.
”It is the only way to achieve progress and development.”
Mr Shehu reassured that the president would 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.
He, however, stated that the situation in the states would greatly be helped by everyone working together ”because that is the foundation on which progress and prosperity can be achieved”.
He, therefore, stressed the need for the Ortom administration to cooperate with the Federal Government in the implementation of a number of national strategies and programmes aimed at addressing underlying issues militating against peace, progress and development.
”This can still get done when the interest of the people is placed above all other interests.
A government voted into office by the people, should treat the people as its masters and not as its servants,” he added.
Mr Shehu quoted the president as expressing his condolences to the families of those citizens who lost their loved ones in the recent spate of killings in Benue.
He said the president condemned the rising levels of incidents, especially the killings and violence in various parts of the country, and called for further collaboration with security agencies to curb its recurrence.