The Taraba State Government has agreed to review the anti-open grazing law to address the concerns of herders in the state.
The governor of the state, Darius Ishaku, and his Ebonyi State counterpart, David Umahi, disclosed this on Tuesday during a visit by a sub-committee of the National Economic Council on a fact finding mission to Taraba State.
The committee, headed by Mr. Umahi, was set up by the council to work on resolving the conflicts between farmers and herders across Nigeria, and especially in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states where the conflicts have claimed hundreds of lives.
Addressing journalists at the Executive Council Chambers in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, Mr. Umahi said the committee met for several hours with leaders of farmers and herders, as well as officials of the government and State House of Assembly of the state.
Mr. Umahi said the committee pleaded with Governor Ishaku and Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly, Peter Diah, to revisit the anti-open grazing law of the state to accommodate the interest of Fulani herdsmen.
Mr. Umahi further disclosed that in the cause of a closed-door meeting with the security chiefs in the state, the committee discovered that the latest crisis on the Mambila plateau in the state had nothing to do with farmers and herdsmen but was purely a land issue which he said the state government had shown commitment to address.
Mr. Umahi blamed the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association for boycotting the public hearing on the anti-open grazing law which he identified as one of the problems that culminated in the crisis. He also mentioned ignorance of the said law as another reason why the crisis persisted.
“We are here as part of fact finding to ascertain the remote cause of the crisis between farmers and herdsmen across the State. In the cause of our assignment, we met with government of Taraba state led by the governor, Darius Ishaku, the leadership of Miyetti Allah, farmers, stakeholders and security agents and we had a far-reaching solution to the crisis and the parties agreed that there should be a ceasefire and that all the parties should return to dialogue.
“There were so many issues raised and the committee after much deliberation with the concerned parties was able to make some recommendations, including our request for some amendment to some sections of the law which the herders considered against them.
“We agreed that all cases pending in the court be withdrawn to enable the committee conclude their assignment.”
Mr. Umahi said the herdsmen agreed to observe ranching but requested that state and federal governments should come to their aids to adapt to the new venture.
He added that the herdsmen should start making use of the already existing ranching facilities in Mambila while the state government should start pilot ranching programme in the three senatorial zones in the state.
Earlier, Mr. Ishaku disclosed that the crisis on the Mambila plateau was a land matter, which was manipulated by unseen hands outside the state.
He assured that his administration would do everything within its powers to ensure lasting peace among the 48 ethnic nationalities in the state, including revisiting the anti-open grazing law to address the grievances of herders.