BENUE, JANUARY 23, 2018 – Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has declared that no amount pressure mounted on him from outsiders will make him to repeal the Anti-Open Grazing Law.
The governor, however, warned the people of the state against any attempt to rustle or attack Fulani herdsmen in retaliation for the recent attacks and killing of their kinsmen by marauding herdsmen.
He appealed to them to report to the appropriate authorities any security threat the appropriate authorities for immediate action.
Ortom insisted the Anti-Open Grazing Law had come to stay and vowed not to bow to pressure from any quarters.
The governor spoke in Makurdi on Monday at the emergency stakeholders’ meeting held at the Benue People’s House.
He warned that anyone found engaging in unlawful acts would be made to face the full wrath of the law as contained in the Anti-Open Grazing Law, stressing that the law was enacted to protect both the herdsmen and the farmers.
Ortom told the Benue leaders of thought that the law was against cattle rustling and also forbids cattle from grazing openly, especially on farms, declaring that there were stiff penalties for the offences.
He said that as a result of the Fulani herdsmen killings, 80,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were registered at the five camps opened by the state government.
He further sued for unity among the people irrespective of their political and religious affiliations to enable them tackle the security challenges in the state.
In his remarks, Ambassador Iyorwuese Hagher, pushed for the establishment of state police in the federation. According to him, the state police would have nipped the recent crisis in the bud.
Senator Fred Orti appealed to the people to sink their differences be they political or religious so as to address the insecurity in the state head on.
Prof. Jerry Agada said that Benue people fought to keep Nigeria as indivisible entity and should do same by tackling the Fulani herdsmen attack.
Former Minister of Power and Steel, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, commended the people for uniting in order to address the incessant attacks on them by herdsmen.
The Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, said that the Anti-Open Grazing Law did not breach any section of the Nigerian constitution and wondered why the herdsmen were against it.
The Och’ Idoma, Elias Obekpa, called for the patrol of River Benue constantly by the Marine Police, stressing that most times the attackers come through the river.
A member of the House of Representatives, Dr. John Idye, advised Benue leaders to pull out of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and rejuvenate the Middle Belt Forum because NEF was not ready to speak for the ills done to the minorities in the North.