Anti Open Grazing Law: Ortom Warns Lalong To Mind His Business
From Msughshima Andrew
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has said that at no time did his Plateau State counterpart, Simon Lalong warn him about the enactment and implementation of the Anti Open Grazing Law.
Governor Ortom stated this while reacting for the first time after Lalong told State House Correspondents some weeks back that he warned him against promulgating the law but he (Ortom) refused to heed his warning.
Speaking at a meeting between the Federal Government committee on the herdsmen and Farmers crisis and Benue stakeholders in Makurdi on Sunday night, Governor Ortom warned Lalong to mind his own business.
“At no time did governor Simon Lalong warned me against enacting the law. Lalong must mind his business and let me, Ortom mind my business”, he stated.
The committee led by the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi was in the state on a facts finding mission to enable them find sustainable resolutions to the Farmers/Fulani herders crisis in Nigeria.
Ortom thanked the committee for choosing Benue state as their first point of call and expressed optimism that this visit would afford them to see things themselves and know whether he is masterminding the crisis or not as being speculated in some quarters.
“We choose the path of peace in a civilized way to tackle the crisis even when Fulani herdsmen are killing our people like chickens. We remain committed to this course in ensuring that we live in peace. We must not accept the total deceit that is going on in the country. The anti open grazing law started smoothly until Miyetti Allah issued a threat which they actually carried out by them. Therefore, l want to urge the committee to work assidiously to bring justice to Benue”.
The Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi who led the committee members to the state on behalf of the substantive Chairman of the committee and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, condemned the killings in Benue and other part of the country noting that the crisis in Benue state is a delicate one which must be handled with open minds.
He said the Federal Government never gave any directive for states to allocate five hectares of land for cattle colonies as being speculated in the social media saying in one of their meetings, they agreed that sub committee should be set up to visit four most affected states including Benue, Taraba, Kaduna and Plateau states to interact with the people and get their perception.
The President General , Mzough U Tiv, Chief Edwin Ujege who spoke on behalf of Benue Socio-Cultural Groups said the people of Benue state want peace, protection of lives and properties in accordance with Nigeria constitution.
According to him, since the crisis started in 2011 in Benue state and well over 2000 people have been killed including women and children with properties worth over N95bn destroyed.
“Our children no longer go to schools, we have been chased out of our homes, markets and schools. We want restructuring, devolution of power and establishment of state police”.
Also speaking, the Catholic Bishop of Makurdi diocese, Bishop Wilfred Anagbe said that before the law was enacted, several villages in Tiv land have been deserted down to Agatu where the herdsmen launched massive attacks on Benue communities.
“I am happy that the FG has set up this committee to find solution to this incessant attacks on Farmers. We have changed government, educational curriculum in Nigeria, why can government not change to the adoption of ranching. It is only in Nigeria that cows are not ranched but are allowed to freely invade communities including airport runways. If the herdsmen are for grazing, why are they killing people, there is more to grazing. In 1950s,1960s, Fulanis came to settle in our community with their wives and children but the present crops of Fulanis now come without their families but with sophisticated guns.
Also speaking at the meeting, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigerian, CAN, Benue State chapter, Rev. Augustine Akpen Leva noted that the recent killings of 73 persons were calculated, masterminded and supervised by Federal Government.
“We alerted the Federal Government about the possible attack on our people yet FG refused to take action. The IGP , Minister of defence have shown incompetent and if not so, they are part of the grand plan. Therefore, it is a shame that the Federal Government is shielding and covering Fulani herdsmen whike they go about killing people across the country”, he maintained.
Rev Leva stated that Leadership of Miyetti Allah must be arrested, while Federal government must cater for all the IDPs in the state, saying the killings in Nigeria is a grand plan to islamize Nigeria just as he said that Christians are being killed for Muslim to takeover Nigeria.
Chief Godwin Onah, the Och’Agatu on his part disclosed that in 2013, five hundred people were killed and 570 villages were destroyed in Agatu area when there was no anti open grazing then.
He said that FG has failed in its obligation and the law of anti open grazing has come to stay, stating that is too bad and too sad that Nigerians are killing Nigerians and nobody is saying anything.