Benue Pulls out of Proposed Grazing Reserves by State Governors

  •  Ondo CAN: Grazing reserve will spread evil acts of herdsmen

By George Okoh in Makurdi and James Sowole in Akure

Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, yesterday reiterated the state government’s position on the proposed agreement by some state governors in Nigeria to provide grazing land for Fulani herdsmen with an emphatic no to the proposal.

Ortom, who spoke at an award ceremony by the Catholic Star Newspaper at the St. Joseph’s Yiman Catholic Church in Kakurdi, said the state has no land to give for grazing and would not be a party to the decision.

He said the recent attacks by Fulani herders on Benue communities were unacceptable, adding that the menace of the herders had brought untold hardship to farmers in various communities in the state.

The governor also promised that all the economic, social and financial difficulties being experienced in the state would be a thing of the past before the end of his tenure.

He said some of the problems are not peculiar to the state despite his inability to pay five-month salaries.

“As you can observe, over 27 states are finding it difficult to pay monthly salaries to workers and so it is not Benue alone and this is due to the economic situation in the country.”

He asked the people of the state to be patient and prayerful while promising that government is willing and ready to clear the backlog of salaries as soon as the situations improves in the state.

Earlier, while welcoming the guest to the ceremony, the Parish Priest of the church, Fr. Moses Iorapuu, said the award was for those who had distinguished themselves to the service of humanity.

He said the nine recipient of the award are philanthropist who have contributed in no small measures to the improvement of lives in the society. Some of the awardees, including Mr. Julius Atorough, Asema Achado and Governor Ortom said the were moved by the plight of the less privilege in society to provide succor to them.

They appreciated the Catholic Star Newspaper for the honour bestowed on them.

The Catholic Star Newspaper is a publication of the Catholic church.

Also, the Ondo State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the weekend raised the alarm that the proposed establishment of  grazing reserves as measure to curb the incessant herdsmen-farmers clashes as a deceptive way of appropriating lands of indigenous ethnic groups for herdsmen to spread their tentacles. The CAN raised the alarm in Akure, Ondo State, at a news briefing it addressed on the State of the Nation by the Chairman of the association in the state, Rev John Ayo Oladapo.

Oladapo, who was supported by some officers of the association in the state and South-west,  said the most sensible and economically wise approach would be to build ranches for the herdsmen in their states of origin.

“The building of ranches makes more sense and this is the internationally approved best practice under the circumstance. Other nations of the world consume beef yet, nomads do not drive their herds of cattle all over the nation in the 21st century,” he said.

The CAN Chairman expressed dismay on what it called inaction of the federal government on the carnage and destruction caused by herdsmen against legitimate native land owners and farmers across the country.

“It is most shocking that till today, there has been no prosecution of any of these marauders. The murderous escapades of the herdsmen has gained international notoriety to the extent that the group is now considered, internationally as the fourth most dangerous terror organisation in the world.

“It is unfortunate that the response of the federal government to the menace of the herdsmen has to date, been tepid and indifferent.

“We are yet to hear of any killer herdsman who has been arraigned for murder, arson and destruction of property. We have only heard of peace talks. We challenged the federal government to stand tall on this,” he said.

Oladapo criticised the invitation of herdsmen for peace talks saying: “Are the police supposed to call murderers and arsonists to peace talks or to arrange them for crimes committed.  This double standard in the maintenance of law and order has emboldened the herdsmen.

“If the destructive activities of these men are not curtailed, we may be sitting on a keg of gunpowder which could explode anytime in the near future,” Oladapo stated.