By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has distanced himself from the protracted land dispute between the Nigeria Air Force and the Ugondo community of Makurdi and Gwer East Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state.
The Governor who pointed out that the land dispute began long before he became Governor of the State said it was unfair to accuse him of meddling in the matter in order cede the disputed land to the Air Force.
The Governor in a statement yesterday in Makurdi by his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Terver Akase was reacting to allegations making the rounds in the concerned communities that he was colluding with the Air Force to take away their land.
Akase in the statement said, “Governor Ortom wishes to make it abundantly clear that he has no hand in the land dispute between Ugondo community of Makurdi and Gwer East LGAs and the Nigeria Air Force.
“He stressed that he has not at any time taken land belonging to the people of Ugondo and handed it to Nigeria Air Force.
“Governor Ortom stated that he only attempted to amicably resolve the matter by holding series of peace meetings with stakeholders in the dispute, but when the matter was taken to court, he called the leaders, elders, and chiefs and told them that he had withdrawn from the negotiation.
“He said as a law-abiding person, the moment the people of Ugondo decided to handle the issue through legal means, he made no further mediation, and therefore wondered why he is still being accused of grabbing the land and giving it to Nigerian Airforce.
“He emphasizes that even while he was meditating in the land dispute, he only appealed for a peaceful resolution of the matter and at no time imposed his opinion on the two parties.”
The statement reaffirmed the Governor’s commitment to fairness, equity, and justice in running the affairs of the state even as he commended the people for the support given him to succeed.