George Okoh in Makurdi
Members of the National Council of Tiv Youths (NCTY), the umbrella body for Tiv youths at home and in the Diaspora took their grievances against the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) and other sister bodies criticising the passage of the anti-open grazing bill to the Benue State Government in a protest that was accompanied with a letter from the organisation through the governor to be delivered to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Addressing the governor, Chief John Akpereshi, the mobiliser of the protest, maintained that Benue and Tiv youths in particular had become infuriated by the threats and criticisms emanating from the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and their sister bodies that are criticising the anti-open grazing law.
To him, such threats amounted to treason and ought to be visited with penalties according to the law.
He said the Tiv youths are not cowards and would resist promptly, any attempt from the Fulani herdsmen to claim their land and to even attack a law that was passed in accordance with constitutional provisions.
He lamented that the peaceful and hospitable nature of Benue communities was being raped and abused by headsmen.
He further urged the president of the country to arrest those making treasonable utterances against Benue communities with a view to ensuring peace and safety of the nation even as he reminded the president that Benue people equally have a right to self-determination.
Reacting to the protest and message of the Tiv youths, Governor Samuel Ortom first of all appreciated them for the peaceful nature of the march which was devoid of violence and discord.
He particularly maintained that the law was the wish of the people and that it was going to be implemented against all odds and must be respected by all.
He said the law is not meant to send anybody away, but is to prohibit open and indiscriminate grazing.
Ortom reiterated the commitment of his administration to safeguard the lives of the people and noted that no amount of intimidation from whoever would deter him from the right path.
He informed that a Fulani man had called his wife, Dr. Eunice Ortom and told her to inform him (the governor) that he should be very careful about his intentions to sack them from Benue State. Governor Ortom urged Benue people to go about their normal businesses and not to worry that, once the grace month of October was over, the law would be implemented as modalities were being put in place for such implementation.
On hand with the governor to receive the aggrieved youths and their letter meant for the acting president were Benson Abounu, the Deputy Governor of the state, Prof. Tony Ijohor (SAN) the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, Commissioner for Education, as well as other members of the state executive council and government functionaries at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.