The governor of Benue State in North-Central Nigeria, Dr Samuel Ortom says the country ‘is under siege and needs to be helped to come out from the pangs of terrorist groups holding the country to ransom’.
Governor Ortom also challenged Nigerians in diaspora to use the international environment with its free press to call attention to the evil going on in their country and speak against religious extremism.
A statement issued Friday by Rev Peter Ichull, senior special assistant to the governor on diaspora affairs, said the governor also called for religious freedom in Nigeria, insisting that the people’s fundamental human rights must be protected by the federal government.
Governor Ortom raised the alarm while addressing Nigerians in Diaspora and Friends of Nigeria at the Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) International Ministerial Fringe Events on Nigeria, organized by the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation and the International Peace-Building and Social Justice in London.
He said, “The bombing of churches and killing of worshippers were a calculated attempt to send fear into the living to restrict their religious freedom.”
According to him, it was for this reason that every just and progressive society must uphold certain freedoms for all people as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the constitutions of most nations, including Nigeria and other rights’ documents.
While questioning the state of freedom in Nigeria, the governor emphasized that freedom of religion and belief was all-important since it ‘ensures that every individual retains the freedom to worship in peace and security as well as change religion or belief at any time without fear of persecution’.
The governor said his state was forced to enact “The Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Establishment of Ranches Law, 2017” and also put in place other security measures.
Ortom recommended among other things honesty on the part of President Buhari in political appointments and siting of development projects to reflect the nation’s diversity.
He urged President Buhari to address the flagrant attacks on Christians on account of their faith, belief system and religion.
Ortom also called for proportionate pressure from the international community and advocated for the ‘mobilization at the local and international levels to ensure that we roll back this dark cloud of rabid religious intolerance and accompanying violence by radical Islam in Nigeria’.
The governor urged the International Organization for Peace-Building and Social justice (PSJ UK), organizers of the International Ministerial Fringe Events on Nigeria, and other organizations with like-minded objectives, to use their voices to ensure that the federal government of Nigeria live up to its constitutional responsibilities of promoting and upholding Nigeria’s status in words and in actions.