The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, says incessant attacks by cattle herders and blackmail would not stop the enforcement the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law in the state.
Mr Ortom said this on Tuesday after inspecting the ongoing renovation work at the Benue Government House, newly constructed 9.6 kilometres Apir-Tse Poor road and electricity project, amongst others in Makurdi, the state capital.
He said pressure was being mounted on the government to repeal the law forbidding open grazing of cattle.
“We have not done any policy somersault in any form as regards prohibition of open grazing in Benue State, and we have not shifted grounds.
“Right from when I signed the open grazing prohibition law which provided for ranching in 2017, I did not say that I was sending Fulanis, Hausas, Igbos, Yorubas or anyone away from Benue State.
“I said everybody was free to do legitimate business in the state. The law is a win-win for everyone including Fulani herders, farmers, and anyone doing legitimate business.”
Speaking further, the governor said “whether he is killed or not, his commitment to the prohibition of open grazing in Benue State remains unalloyed.”
“So the issue of reversing the law is beyond Samuel Ortom and the question does not arise. That is why I will continue to call on President Buhari to rescind his decision to insist that open grazing must continue in Nigeria because it will only bring chaos, anarchy and lawlessness.
“Open grazing is outdated, there is no need for it. That is our position whether you are Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, Tiv, Yoruba or whoever, if you want to do ranching we have land for you. Come and apply, we will give you the land on lease, that is what our law says.
“We are ready for ranching, we have no problem with Fulani people, we have been living together for a long time. But we are against the foreign herdsmen who come to take away our land and kill our people. We are against them, we will not accept them and we will resist them because we are not their partners.
“Our law is still in place and we are enforcing it and arresting and prosecuting anybody who violates it in Benue State. That was what my commissioner reiterated in Abuja recently that some persons tried to twist.
“And I cannot be blackmailed by anyone in this country. Benue people elected me and so far I am doing their will. We are executing projects and ensuring that the grazing law is in place and we are enforcing the law.”
He also said the state government was working with security agencies and local guards to quell insecurity in the state.
Herders-farmers clashes have claimed several lives in Benue in recent months.
As a result of the wanton killings, many communities are in disarray with residents seeking refuge in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps across the state.
The security crisis in Benue is part of the security challenges bedevilling the six-geopolitical zones under the Buhari administration.
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