Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Tuesday warned former police chief, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, to stop playing politics with the death of the Tiv paramount ruler, Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula.
This was contained in a statement signed by Terver Akase, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, made available to newsmen in Makurdi.
NAN reports that Tsav, a former Commissioner of Police, had in the Authority Daily Newspaper of December 28 condemned the governor for “lavish Christmas celebration” at his country home, while the Tor Tiv was yet be buried.
However, the governor said Tsav had lost touch with the current happenings in the state and should not be taken seriously as the entire state had officially mourned the late Tiv ruler for three days.
Ortom said the state government upon the death of the Tiv paramount ruler declared three days of mourning as a mark of respect to the late king, adding that no official function was held by either Ortom or any government official.
He said: “When the news was broken to the governor, who was on official trip away from the state, he rushed back and headed straight to the Tor Tiv’s palace in Gboko where he commiserated with the royal family over the irreparable loss.
“Again, on the day the official announcement of the demise of the Tiv ruler was made, Ortom declared three days of mourning.
“Within the period, the governor did not perform any official function and flags were flew at half mast in the state.”
The statement further disclosed that the state government, in collaboration with the Tiv Traditional Council, had already set up a high powered committee for the burial of Tor Tiv, chaired by retired General Atom Kpera.
NAN reports that the late ruler’s son married the daughter of Ortom long before he became the governor and both families had tremendous respect for each other.
Ortom said the allegation of vindictiveness against the late ruler were baseless, adding that constitutionally and traditionally, he had reasons to accord the late Tor Tiv his due respect and entitlement.
He said Christmas was a day most people return to their communities to join their families, friends and well wishers to thanki God for the gift of the Messiah.
The statement added: “This year’s Christmas was Governor Ortom’s first in that position and expectedly and rightly too, many of his people within the state and beyond came to mark the Yuletide with him.
“He could not have turned them away.
“Moreover, it is ironical that a Muslim faithful who ought to be used to burying the dead, no matter how highly placed, within hours and in the most natural state would be concerned with whether a funeral is low key or elaborate.
“This clearly indicates that for some, politics can easily overwhelm religion.”
Ortom warned that the burial of the late Tor Tiv should not be used as a platform for cheap political purposes, stressing: “The Tiv Paramount Ruler deserves a peaceful rest.”