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Did Garba Shehu say killings in Benue will continue if Ortom fails to cooperate with Buhari?

Claim: A news report by Weetalknaija claims Garba Shehu said the killings in Benue will continue until Ortom cooperates with Buhari.

The headline of the news report is false and misleading. Our findings show this was just a sensational headline as the content of the story and the press release by Garba Shehu contradicts the headline.

Full Text

Benue State has been on the map for the killings of its citizens/residents, from the killing of one officer and 10 soldiers who were on stabilisation operation in the state to the killing of seven Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in a camp in Abagena, a Makurdi suburb on Monday, April 25, 2021.

Reacting to these killings, governor Samuel Ortom said the unfortunate development could have been averted if the federal government was proactive, noting that over 70 persons were killed within two weeks in Makurdi, Gwer West and Guma Local Government Area (LGAs).

“It is an unfortunate development what is happening, if the federal government had taken a proactive step, we will not be where we are. In the last two weeks, over 70 persons just in Makurdi local government area alone. It is not acceptable.”

Excerpt of Ortom’s comment.

He explained that he had alerted the nation when Fulanis from 14 countries met in Yola and declared that except Benue reviews the prohibition of open grazing law, it will not know peace. He added that he had written to the federal government to arrest the leaders of Miyetti Allah that hosted that meeting, but nothing was done.

On the heels of this development, a report by Weetalknaija on Friday, April 30, 2021, claims President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the killing will continue if Ortom does not cooperate with Buhari.

Screenshot of Weetalknaija’s report


Dubawa studied the report by Weetalknaija and also conducted a keyword search which led to other reports by different news platforms.

Going through this report, which quoted Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, as making this claim in its headline, Dubawa observed that this claim was not contained in the body of the news report. The body of the report  noted Mr Shehu called  on the Ortom government to cooperate with the Federal Government in implementing national strategies to end this issue. 

“Benue under the Ortoim administration ought to cooperate with the Federal Government in the implementation of a number of national strategies programs in addressing underlying issues militating against peace, progress and development.”

Excerpt of Weetalknaija’s report.

Dubawa also compared this report by Weetalknaija with other news platforms. 

A report by Premium Times based on the same statement by Garba Shehu gave a different narrative. This report noted that the president was disappointed with governor Ortom’s comment in reaction to these killings.

Screenshot of Premium Times report.

Another report by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) shares the same narrative of the president’s disappointment with the Premium Times report. 

Screenshot of ICIR report

Dubawa also obtained the press release these stories were based on and noted there was nowhere in the statement that reflected weetalknaija’s headline. The press release only called for the cooperation of the Ortom-led government. 

Screenshot of Garba Shehu’s statement


The news report that claims Garba Shehu said the killings in Benue State will continue unless Ortom cooperates with Buhari is false and misleading. Our findings show this was just a sensational headline as the content of the story and the press release contradicts the headline.

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