By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
The senator representing Plateau North in the National Assembly, Jonah David Jang, and the member representing Barkin Ladi/Riyom federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Istifanus Gyang, have in separate statements rejected grazing reserve policy describing it as anti-people.
In the statement signed by Comrade Clinton Garuba, an aide to Jang, the senator said: “For the federal government which owns no cattle, to connive with willing state governors to impose a grazing reserve policy on helpless citizens who have suffered the brunt of rampaging herdsmen in the recent past is not only an abuse of their rights but an assault on their already battered psyche; and this must be vehemently resisted.”
Jang said his position on grazing reserve policy remained the same both on the floor of the senate and at any other forum that Plateau people have no land to cede to the federal government or any group for grazing.
“As a people who have experienced the atrocities of those who seek to take over our land by whatever means, Plateau people must be resilient in rejecting any law or request that seeks to tamper with their heritage, not even the involvement of the government of the day should deter them,” he warned.
He bemoaned Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, for trying “to play politics with issues that affect the very fabric which defines the heritage of our people, their culture and land,” noting that if the people wanted it, it would not have been generating heated controversy in the state.
He therefore called on the people to “rise up against any subtle attempt or otherwise to cede their land for the purpose of satisfying the selfish and egotistical whims of a few who are hell bent on disturbing the peace of the state.”
Also speaking, Gyang in a statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Chuwang Dungs, cautioned Lalong against taking actions that would be regretted in the long run, noting that it could plunge the state into crisis.
He warned that no portion of lands within his constituency should be gazette for such grazing plans because his people vehemently disagree with it.
Gyang said: “The federal government being aware that it has no constitutional powers to administer land matters, has resorted to the powers vested on governors under section 2 of the Land Use Act embedded in section 315 (5d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) by seeking the consent and approval of willing governors to allocate land within their states for the implementation of the grazing reserve policy.
“My take on this matter as it relates to Plateau State, especially the Barkin Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency which I represent, is this: my constituency is just recovering from over a decade of violent attacks, and our lands are still under forceful occupation by herdsmen. The constituency or any part thereof cannot be within the contemplation of a grazing reserve.”