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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Court Declares RUGA, Cattle Colonies Illegal In Benue

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… The Court Judgement Has Vindicates Us… Ortom

From Msurshima Andrew, Makurdi

A Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, has declared the federal

government policy to establish RUGA Settlement and cattle colonies in

Benue State as unwarranted, unlawful and unconstitutional.

The Court presided over by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon gave this

judgement in the suit filed by the Attorney General and Commissioner

for Justice, Benue State, Barrister Michael Gusa against the Attorney

General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural

Development and the Minister of Agriculture.

Delivering the judgement on Monday, Justice Olajuwon declared that any

move by the federal government to compulsorily acquire land for RUGA

Settlement or cattle colony in Benue State without the approval of the

Benue State government is null and void.

The judge also granted an order nullifying every action or decisions

taken to establish RUGA Settlement or cattle colonies for herdsmen in

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Benue State.

Justice Olajuwon further issued an order of perpetual injunction

restraining the Attorney General, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, The

Minister of Agriculture, their agents, privies, servants or whosoever

from making any attempt to hold, administer, use or allocate land in

Benue State for RUGA Settlement, cattle colonies or any other purpose

contrary to the 1999 constitution, the Land Use Act and the Open

Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.

The judge held that by section 1 of the Land Use Act of 1978,

ownership of land in any state of the federation is vested on the

governor of the state and only the governor has the right to grant

statutory right of occupancy to any person.

In his reaction, the Chief Press secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom,

Mr. Terver Akase said the court judgement has vindicated the

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consistent position of Benue State on the matter.

Akase said, ‘the judgment by the Federal High Court in Makurdi which

declared Ruga settlements as illegal has vindicated the consistent

position of Benue State on the matter.

“When Governor Samuel Ortom led his people to reject the proposed Ruga

settlement model, he was not doing so for personal reasons. It was a

struggle by the people of the state and other Nigerians of good

conscience against impunity and injustice.

“By this verdict, the judiciary has once again proved that it is

indeed a beacon of hope for democracy with its attendant attributes

such as equity, fairness and the rule of law.

“The truth has ultimately prevailed on the Ruga settlements issue in

the interest of the entire country.

Akase expressed Governor Ortom’s commendation of President Muhammadu

Buhari who directed the suspension of the proposed Ruga project last

year.

He reassured the people that the Ortom led administration will

continue to encourage those who wish to invest in agriculture

including animal husbandry, according to the laws of the land.

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