The statement said: “We watched in disbelief the comments Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu made last night during the 10pm news of Channels Television. He stated that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom should not have spoken against the imposition of Ruga settlements on his state because, according to the Presidential spokesman, the Governor was not included in the Ruga plan.
“The statement was as contradictory as it was false, misleading and lacking honour.
“The Federal Government, through its Ministry of Agriculture wrote to the Benue State Government informing it about the decision to establish Ruga settlements in the three senatorial zones of the state. Our Ministry of Agriculture which received the correspondence responded that Benue has no land for the Ruga settlements.
“It added that the state only has land for ranches as stipulated by the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017. The Benue State Government subsequently made public its rejection of the Ruga model of animal husbandry and reminded those pushing for the illegal settlement patterns about provisions of the country’s Constitution and the Land Use Act.
“We were therefore shocked to hear Mallam Shehu claim that Governor Ortom was not invited/included in the Ruga project and therefore had no right to comment on it.
“If the Senior Special Assistant to the President claims that Benue was not included in the Ruga arrangement, why did the Federal Government send contractors to mount the project’s signposts in parts of the state? If Benue was not included in the Ruga settlements, why did the Federal Government say it has gazetted lands in the 36 states for the project?
“It is now clear that Garba Shehu is misleading the Presidency and telling lies about a sensitive matter that affects the entire country.
“We choose not to join him in his comfort zone – where he makes unpresidential statements and vilifies anyone with a contrary opinion. His repeated unprovoked attacks on the person and office of the Benue State Governor only expose his temperament and those of others in the same league as persons who are intolerant of alternative views on issues”
“Benue people re-elected Governor Ortom because they were convinced that he is the one who truly represents and protects their interests. The Governor will therefore neither be distracted nor be intimidated by the antics of the likes of Garba Shehu”
“For Governor Ortom, the interest of Benue State and the entire country takes priority over parochial interests.”