The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Benue chapter, says its members are ready to leave the Benue valley as the November 1 deadline for the implementation of the state’s Anti-Open Grazing Law draws nearer.
The Chairman of the association, Garus Gololo, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Makurdi that since the Government made no provision to accommodate their cattle and was insistent on the implementation of the law, they had no option than to leave the state.
“This law is confusing, for instance, they have said they are not chasing out the Fulani’s from the state but they have made no provision for our cattle, the cattle markets and even other cattle.
“They have told us to buy land for ranches, but the question is from who; you know that the process of getting land from the government is tedious, yet they are insisting that we must buy land for ranches.
“When you buy the land, you need the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) to qualify for ownership, how can we get all this within the time frame given by the government?” Mr. Gololo asked
He said although the government had repeatedly explained that the law was not against the Fulani herdsmen, the requirements of the law were stringent and could not be met by the herdsmen within the time frame set by the government.
He said all entreaties to the government for extension of the time frame failed as Governor Samuel Ortom insisted there was no going back on the November 1 dateline for the implementation of the law.
NAN reports that Mr. Ortom had in May signed into law the Anti Open Grazing Law which seeks to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provides for the establishment of ranches and livestock administration in the state.
Although the law was signed in May, its implementation was extended to November 1, 2017 to give cattle breeders and other livestock owners time to build ranches.
The law seeks to end the perennial land skirmishes between farmers and herdsmen in the state.
NAN reports that dozens of people had died in clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state with farmlands and crops amounting to millions of Naira being destroyed.
Reacting to the claims by Mr. Gololo, Benue Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Lawrence Onoja Jr., said enough time was given for land acquisition and the building of ranches.
He said the recent decision of the government to unbundle the procedure for land acquisition and reduce the cost of Certificate of Occupancy was to facilitate the process of land acquisition.
He explained that the law was not against any particular people but was aimed at livestock protection, stating that it also applied to indigenes of the state who had cattle and other livestock.
He said those who were unable to meet the requirement were free to leave the state.
Mr. Onoja Jr, explained that necessary structures for its implementation had been put in place and assured that no stone would be left unturned in its implementation.
He said if the herdsmen had issues with land acquisition they would have brought it to the attention of the government.
The commissioner further referred NAN to the chairman, Implementation Committee of the Anti-Open Grazing Law, Edwin Jando, for more clarification.
However, efforts to speak with Mr. Jando, a retired colonel, failed as he did not pick his calls or reply text messages sent to his phone.