GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State has expressed sadness over the fire that gutted former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s mango farm in Howe, Gwer local government area of Benue State, a statement by Mr Nathaniel Ikyur, Chief Press Secretary, to the governor stated on Tuesday.
The governor, the statement said, has ordered a full scale investigation into the incident “to unravel the remote and immediate cause of the fire outbreak”.
Receiving the report of the incident from the Chairman of Gwer local government council, Mr Emmanuel Otserga, Governor Ortom stated that “where it is discovered that the fire was an act of sabotage, the perpetrators must be brought to book”.
He insisted that no act of sabotage will be tolerated, saying that his government has a deliberate policy to encourage local and foreign investors especially in Agriculture. The governor therefore tasked security operatives in the state to do all that is necessary to get to the root of the matter forthwith.
He said: “It is the height of irresponsibility for anyone to think of setting ablaze a farm that is set to, in a very near future, boost the economic development of the area in particular and state in general. Obasanjo as a former president is a statesman and need to be accorded his due respect anywhere in Nigeria and Benue State cannot be an exception.”
The governor then directed the Benue State Commissioner of Police to ensure that the perpetrators are fished out immediately and brought to book.
Earlier, the chairman of Gwer local government, Mr Atserga, told the governor that over half of the mango farm covering over 139 hectares of land got razed and four suspects have been arrested and more are being trailed to be apprehended.
Otserga said he suspects foul play because “from the look of things, the fire was caused by the deliberate act of mischief makers. The farm is well safeguarded, there is no way fire can cross over from any quarter into the farm”.
Director of the state fire service, Mr. Donald Ikyaaza, also alleged that the fire was caused by sabotage.