Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Following the anti-grazing bill recently passed by the Benue State House of Assembly, the State Governor, Samuel Ortom has revealed that twelve out of the twenty-three local government areas in the state were previouslyÂ under theÂ Fulani herdsmen occupation for two years.
Ortom gave the hint in Makurdi while hosting the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) led by its President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle to distribute relief materials worth N7 million.
According to him, “coming at a time that Benue State House of Assembly passed the anti-open grazing bill speaks volume and it goes to confirm that we will receive support from all the Christian community in Nigeria. What you see in that bill is a decision not just of the Governor, or the speaker or members of the Benue State House of Assembly, but the decision of Benue State because the bill was subjected to public hearing and the people were unanimous.”
He added that, “Benue State has twenty three local governments. But twelve local governments have been under siege by the Fulani herdsmen. Benue state was completely under siege for two years. It is not a crime that God gave us a green land and as we are known as the food basket of the nation, we are not going to farm in the air or on the sea, or any other place, it is on land.
“There is no way we can compete with grazing. It is impossible for grazing to go along side with farming. And for several years we have pleaded with the herdsmen but they continued killing. With the increase in human activities, road networks, markets and other things, the competition for land is kin. It is unreasonable to think that grazing will continue in Nigeria.
“They should rare their cattle in a civilised way and it must be regulated. In Benue state you must abide by the law otherwise flouting it will land you in jail,” Ortom stated.
He emphasised that the lasting solution to the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen is ranching, while lamenting that it was amazing that even at the nation’s capital cattle were freely interfering with traffic in Abuja.
Earlier, the CAN President called on the federal government not to play ethnicity on the issue of killer herdsmen, adding that the situation whereby Fulani herdsmen continue with their provocative and merciless killings might end in big war.
Ayokunle said; “Yesterday, I read in the newspapers that the House of Assembly has already made the law that outlaws random grazing, free grazing everywhere, that people who will do grazing of livestock must take proper permission. I think this is one of the ways to put an end to this type of unnecessary, unreasonable, unwarranted type of killings that have been going on in this State, and I hope other States will emulate this in bringing an end to this unfortunate killing.
“The issue on ground is not about hatred for any group of people, we need to learn to live together in peace in this country but if we must do the pilgrimage together there must be justice, fairness and there must be mutual respect for one another.
“The situation where the offender is treated like a sacred cow is so provocative and unacceptable and there is a proposition in psychology that says that an instigation to aggression depends on the degree of frustration.
“If you continue to frustrate people, they can become very aggressive. Therefore, we don’t want any group of professional people whether herdsmen or any other men to provoke others to anger that may end up in a big war in this nation. We are saying this because violence is not a monopoly of any ethnic group.
“If the government continues to look at the herdsmen and allowing them to be rampaging everywhere killing others, the way the herdsmen got their ammunition, the rest of us will also get it. Before we get to a state of complete disorder, government should rise up to its responsibility, not only to arrest offenders but conclusively prosecute them so that others will sit right,” the president warned.