Ortom briefed journalists on Saturday, March 20, on how he and his security team were attacked by suspected criminal herdsmen close to a river bank that morning. The incident, he said, happened at Tyo Mu along the Makurdi/Gboko road in Makurdi Local Government Area of the state.
Various political leaders, including the Northern States Governors Forum, condemned the attack, describing it as disturbing. The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammad Adamu, similarly condemned it and ordered a full investigation into the events.
A post shared on Saturday by a Twitter user, Chinasa Nworu (@ChinasaNworu), included two old pictures, claiming they showed the moment the governor “escaped death as suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked his convoy.”
The tweet generated hundreds of reactions including replies and over 350 retweets.
HumAngle found through reverse image searches that the pictures have been online between 2017 and 2020 depicting different incidents. The government of Benue State is yet to release a picture of the recent attack.
One of the two pictures showing the security men guarding the governor standing on a road has been on the website of Legit, a popular Nigerian blog, since March 21, 2017. The platform had reported that a taxi driver rammed into the convoy of the governor when he was returning from Zaki Biam that month.
The second picture has been on the Internet since last year. The Nation newspaper included it in a photo story published on Jan. 24, 2020, which stated that Ortom’s convoy had arrested cows for “violating” the open grazing law in Benue state.
Skeptics ask Ortom to prove he was attacked
Social media users have asked Governor Ortom to provide evidence confirming he was attacked as a group of youths in Benue protested the incident.
“This was Buhari’s SUV in 2014 when he was attacked in Kaduna. So I ask again, where is the Ortom’s SUV and the bullet holes on it, if there is none, how many of his security personnels got Injured or hurt?” a Twitter user with the username @MRTEEKAY4YOU questioned.
Also, the people of Tyo-Mu have reportedly debunked the story of the attack, claiming that he staged it to steal their lands.
A statement by the president of the association, Verma Tsebbe, said the attack was designed to send the community packing from the area.
“We have no place to live; our inheritance has been razed down without compensation or prosecution of those involved in the crisis. There is no mechanism put here to prevent this dastardly destruction of lives and property up till now,” he said.
“Then we wake up to find out that Governor Ortom is purchasing the land. We feel that the alleged attack is to further frighten the people and scare them away from the area to pave way for the governor’s land-grabbing agenda.”