John Alechenu, Abuja
The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has given herdsmen who are not prepared to abide by provisions of the state’s grazing law up till November 2017 to quit or be ready to face the consequences.
Ortom said this while responding to questions from journalists in Abuja on Friday. He explained that the law took two years to be formulated, noting that inputs were received from all relevant stakeholders before its passage into law.
According to him, contrary to insinuations in some quarters, the law was not targeted at individuals or an ethnic group but formulated to protect law abiding herdsmen and farmers.
Ortom stressed that his administration was prepared to provide land for those interested in ranching. This, he said, would be subject to strict adherence to relevant laws guiding land use.
The governor said, “The anti-open grazing law is not targeted at anyone, tribe or religion. It is meant to improve business in the state and save lives and property of both the herdsmen and farmers. We have given everyone grace period of between now and November this year to get ranches for their livestock.
“When the deadline expires, it is either you ranch your livestock peacefully and continue to do business here in Benue State or you quit. I have assured the herdsmen that I will provide them with security if they want to leave Benue State.
“The government of Benue State is ready to provide for those willing to ranch their livestock as I have done in my farm in Makurdi. The law even seeks to protect the Fulani herdsmen as it stipulates serious sanctions against cattle rustlers.”
Ortom welcomed the new Federal Government’s yam export policy. He said the state, which currently produces 46 per cent of the tubers of yams consumed in Nigeria, had put in place measures to increase production to 60 per cent and that the state would ensure that all exports meet international standards.
On the issue of security, the governor said his administration had since inception given attention to the security of lives and property of citizens and residents of the state.
This, he said, was the spirit behind the administration’s partnership with the Nigerian Prison Service to construct new cells within the state prison to accommodate individuals who decide to make crime their way of life.
He equally said security forces were closing in on the notorious armed robbery and kidnap kingpin commonly known as Gana, whose criminal gang had been behind heinous crimes in Benue and Taraba states.
In response to a question on the issue of restructuring, Ortom expressed the view that members of the National Assembly were better placed to handle such matters.
He explained that since the issue would require amendments to the Nigerian Constitution, people should be encouraged to forward suggestions to the lawmakers.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Source: The Punch