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Fulani herdsmen have taken over 12 LGs in Benue – Gov

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Friday Olokor, Jos

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said that 12 out of the 23 Local Government Areas of the state have been taken over by Fulani herdsmen.

To this end, the governor was said to have backed the law outlawing open grazing, saying it would promote the economy and protect lives and property of people, especially in Agatu, which had been taken over by Fulani herdsmen.

He also vowed to ensure proper implementation of the bill when signed into law, with a call on the security agencies to cooperate with the government and people of the state.

A statement issued on Friday by Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said Ortom made the explanation while receiving a delegation of CAN, led by its President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle.

CAN had been in the state to donate relief materials worth N7m to victims of the Fulani herdsmen attacks.

The Benue State House of Assembly had on Thursday passed the grazing bill entitled, “Open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law,” for the prohibition of open grazing and rearing of livestock in the state.

The governor told his guests that 12 out of the 23 Local Government Areas were under siege of the Fulani herdsmen, adding that it was impossible for farming and grazing to go along.

Ortom maintained that the state had been known to be the food basket of the country, adding that whoever wanted to venture into livestock should embrace ranches as it is done all over the world.

He said, “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.

“Benue State has 23 Local Government Areas. But 12 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 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 the 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 continue to kill.

“Even before I became governor, the lasting solution to the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen is ranching, that is what the bill is saying. They have led to the increase in human activities, road networks, markets and other things, so it is unreasonable to think that grazing will continue in Nigeria.”

In his remarks, Ayokunle said they were in the state to identify with the people, expressing support to the anti-open grazing law.

He said it was barbaric and provocative for the government to treat perpetrators of the killings as sacred cows, as no group has the monopoly of violence.

The CAN President said, “I think this is one of the ways to put an end to this type of unnecessary and unwarranted killings that have been going on in this state. And I hope other states will emulate this in bringing an end to the unfortunate killings.”

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