Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom said if the Federal Government was not given to double standard in the handling of insecurity, the menace wouldn’t have this bad.
He faulted President Muhammadu Buhari led government for slamming a ban on the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Independent Peoples of Biafra ( IPOB), yet treating Fulani herdsmen killers with kid gloves.
Speaking on Thursday at a press week of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, FCT Chapter, where he was the Guest Speaker, the governor charged Nigerians to rescue themselves by speaking out.
Ortom wondered how the Fulani Socio-cultural group, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore National Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Badejo openly called on Fulani herders to take over Benue forests to resist his Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law.
According to him, killer herdsmen killed over 73 persons in Benue State in 2018, yet were not arrested, lamenting that the lacklustre of government was emboldening killer herdsmen by the day.
Speaking on attempted assasination on him, the governor said the Fulani Socio-cultural group leadership admitted responsibility on 20th March, 2021, adding that government’s failure to take the tide was proliferation of arms and deep-rooted resentments and secessionist tendencies.
Ortom revealed that properties worth N90 billion have been destroyed, adding that the group has claimed 11 local Government Areas resulting to hundreds of deaths in Benue state between 2009 and 2014.
He lamented the state of insecurity saying: “Boko Haram a terror franchise of militant Islamic group is responsible for killings, rape, public executions, bombings of public and private property and places of worship and robbery.
“Rising cases of pipeline vandalism by militant groups have affected the country’s economy by depleting the source of revenue of government and oil companies operating in the zone”, noting g that President Buhari didn’t visit Benue State immediately after the massacred 73 persons were buried.
“Benue people have suffered genocidal and repeated acts of terrorism from known attackers – armed Fulani herdsmen!
“Our people know those who have been attacking and killing them in their sleep and on their farms and ancestral lands.
“However, we have chosen, as law-abiding citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to sustain our belief in the conventional security agencies of this country by not resorting to self-help.
“Unfortunately, we are increasingly coming across as dumb, foolish and helpless in the eyes of many citizens.
“We have maintained that the concern of Benue people is not just with the herdsmen militia, be they Libyans, Boko Haram, ISIS or any other mercenary terrorist force.
“Our concern is also with those who hire the killers as mercenaries; those who bring them and show them our ancestral lands for them to turn into killing fields.
“We have consistently maintained that the arrest and prosecution of leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria would have been the beginning of a semblance of justice for the thousands of people killed, injured, maimed and displaced; and whose property has been destroyed in Benue State by the armed herdsmen and their mercenaries; which escalated since 2013 with the Agatu killings.”
He said in addition to thousands of lives lost, Benue has been thrown into a massive humanitarian and economic crises of enormous proportions during the period of my government.
“Homes, schools, churches, health centres, security posts, roads, bridges, farms and other sources of livelihood have been destroyed. “Over 180,000 of our people were registered in eight officially designated Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in 2018; while over 500,000 displaced people have been living with relatives, in host communities and in uncompleted buildings and public spaces across several Local Government Areas in Benue State.”
Ortom reiterated his stand on the Ranching law which the State had prescribed as panacea for lasting peaceful co-existence between farmers and herders in Nigeria.
“Our ranching Law which prohibits open grazing is Benue people’s reaction to these incessant killings, and an instrument of development.
“It was enacted by representatives of the people in the Benue State House of Assembly, in exercise of its powers as provided for by Section Four (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“Part Two of the Second Schedule reinforces the power of the State House of Assembly providing that “a House of Assembly may make laws for the State with respect to industrial, commercial or agricultural development.”
“The Law followed due process with public hearings and requisite opportunity for all stakeholders, including the herdsmen making inputs.
“Our Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 has the potential to launch Nigeria into 21st century livestock production with international best practice in animal husbandry.
“Today, we live in the 21st century and open grazing is obsolete in most countries of the world. In Europe, America, Asia and in many countries in Africa, pastoralism has long given way to ranching.
“How can Nigeria then, still be battling with a problem of pastoralism that in other countries has been solved over a century ago?
“According to the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, India has 303 million cattle, Brazil, 226 million, China, 100 million, USA, 93 million, Argentina, 53 million and Australia 27 million. All these countries ranch their animals.
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