Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has criticized the shaming of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom by unruly Nigerian Air Force personnel in Makurdi, the state capital, on Saturday.
Despite a letter from the Presidency inviting him, the governor claims he was refused access to the NAF Base where he wished to greet Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was transiting the state.
“This morning (Saturday) I went to the Air Force base to receive the Vice-President, who was to transit to Wukari, but unfortunately, I was barred in my own state; it is a breach of protocol.
“This is politics taken too far and somebody must account for this. If the Vice-President is passing and if I don’t go (to receive him), it will be a breach of protocol on my side,’’ a furious Ortom told journalists on Saturday.
In a statement, the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, asserted that excluding an elected state governor and the state’s Chief Security Officer from the NAF Base is an affront to the democratic concept.
Onwubiko said, “Denying Ortom, who is a member of the National Economic Council led by the Vice President himself from such an invited event is hypocritical of the administration of President and his Vice-President who claim to be for everyone and for nobody.
“It is a known fact that Ortom, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, has been very vocal in his criticism against the ruling All Progressives Congress. The embarrassment of Ortom on Saturday can be termed deliberate and an act of persecution for speaking out against the Buhari regime.
“The Saturday event again queries the genuineness of Nigeria’s federalism and again calls for the need for the states and the regions to have control over security agents in their domains.
“The silence of the Nigerian Air Force and the Vice-President a day after the matter is suspiciously complicitous. Both NAF and Osinbajo must publicly apologise to Ortom and sanction the overzealous officers for the flagrant disrespect of the governor. Belonging to an opposition party and being a critic should not warrant victimisation”.