Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, a frontline human rights lawyer, has hailed Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State for defending his people.
He hailed the Governor for standing firm to the fact that he was elected to govern his people and not to be an undertaker, burying citizens everyday because of circumstances beyond his control.
The rights lawyer spoke at a human rights lecture organised by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, with the theme: “Nigerian School Children; Insecurity and Human Rights”, held in Abuja.
Ortom was represented at the event by Ikyui Nathaniel, the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Government, who also received an award on behalf of the Governor.
Ozekhome noted that Ortom.has been made to go through difficult situations because he has chosen to be a governor and not an undertaker.
“Because of the fact that even as a state governor, he cannot control the security forces in his own state, he cannot control the police because under section 214 and 215, the police remain a federal matter and when the governor gives instruction to the Commissioner of Police.
The constitution says the Commissioner must take clearance from the Inspector General of Police and the Minister of Police Affairs at the federal level. So the governor is made chief security officer of his people without the powers to administer security.
“What the constitution gave with one hand, it immediately took back with the other. But this governor has shown resilience. He has shown capacity and ability to defend his people.
“We’re proud of him. We’re giving him this award to tell him to continue to fight for a better society particularly in Benue State,” the lawyer said.
Speaking immediately after receiving the award, Nathaniel, who conveyed the Governor’s message said, “The Governor says that the only way he can keep quiet is when justice has been given to his people.
“The people must be given justice; the killings must end. Nigeria is on life support and must arise from where it is now. All of us must come together and ensure the right thing is done in Nigeria. There must be fairness, justice and equity.”
The National Human Rights Recognitions and Awards were conferred on a few Nigerians who have made tremendous contributions to the advancement of human rights.
Governor Samuel Ortom was one of those individuals. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Of Enugu State, who was represented by Mr Chijoke Edoga, Commissioner of Environment, among others, also received the award.