By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Benue State governor Samuel Ortom has called on the security agencies to call the leaders of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore to order for openly making inciting statements capable of breaching public peace and order.
Ortom made the call on Thursday in a press release signed by the Commissioner of Information, Lawrence Onoja Jnr and made available to Sundiata Post.
He said this while was reacting to a report credited to the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore on the Open Grazing Prohibition and Establishment of Ranches Law signed by the governor.
According to the statement, “The attention of the Benue State Government has been drawn to media reports credited to the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a Fulani socio-cultural association which held a Press Conference in Abuja to reject the Open Grazing Prohibition and Establishment of Ranches Law signed by Governor Samuel Ortom.
“The Benue State Government condemns the statements of these leaders of the association and their stand which amounts to open declaration of war on Benue State citizens. The Government calls on the Security Agencies to arrest these leaders of the Association for prosecution for openly making inciting statements capable of breaching public peace and order.
“Benue State and its people are under threat. We request the Federal Government to call Miyetti Allah and its leaders to order before they plunge the country into a conflagration which will be difficult to contain.
Ortom described as reprehensible and irresponsible, the attempt by the socio-cultural group to justify the criminal destruction of lives and properties in the state and the claim that Fulani herdsmen are the original inhabitants of the Benue Valley.
He therefore called on all Nigerians to stand up and condemn the threat of Miyetti Allah. Our legitimate contribution to the resolution of herdsmen and farmers crises should be appreciated because the clashes between farmers and herdsmen remain one of the most protracted problems across our country. To be sure, the threat by Miyetti Allah is not only for Benue but for all states that have or will have farmers and herdsmen crisis.
Also, the governor reminded the cattle breeder Association that the Land Use Act reveals in clear terms that the State Governor is responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the State and organizations for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes. While similar powers are conferred on Local Governments with respect to non-urban areas. The Benue State Anti-grazing Law is therefore Legal and valid.
While debunking the assertion of the Miyetti Allah that the law offends the constitutional provision on freedom of movement, he stated that the law does not restrict free human movement neither does it prohibit grazing of cattle but only seeks to confine the rearing and grazing of cattle to confined ranches which is in line with international best practice for animal husbandry as well as legal provisions prohibiting loitering of animals.
Ortom therefore challenge Miyetti Allah to bring any better or superior solution that would restore lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen to the table rather than issue threats that will compound the problem.
He enjoined the the socio-cultural Association to objectively study the Anti-Grazing Law to be better informed about its contents, adding that the socio-cultural Association has not taken the time to go through the law, which is fair, just, non-discriminatory and applicable to everyone in the state.
The objectives of this law the statement added, include preventing destruction of farms, ponds, settlements and property by open rearing and grazing of livestock as well as incessant clashes between nomadic livestock herders and farmers. Benue State has suffered enormous human and material loses to these incessant crises over the years.
He reminded that the history of the “law to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches and livestock administration, regulation and control and for other matters connected therewith dated back to 2014 report of the Benue State Bureau for Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs which found out that the destruction which invading Fulani herdsmen caused across 10 local governments of Benue State exceeded N95 billion in that year alone. Adding that this state of affair which later covered more areas with more deadly and destructive effects, challenged the executive to come up with the law to restore lasting peace.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the people of Benue State are the original indigenes of their ancestral land and are concerned with preventing stock breeders from violently disrupting their economic and social life through unregulated activities. Engr. Alhassan therefore completely missed the point when he insisted that livestock breeders must be welcome in the state. For the avoidance of doubt, there are many ethnic groups in Benue lawfully carrying on their businesses and profession without any form of discrimination or hostility from the Government and people of the State. What the Government cannot accommodate is any group be it persons or any Organization breaching the peace of the state, the statement said.
“There is nothing repressive nor obnoxious or wicked about a lawful avenue to safeguard lives and property of indigenes and non-indigenes living in Benue State which is the primary responsibility of the Government”, the statement read.
He wondered why an association which considers itself as partners in progress describes peaceful attempts at conflict resolution as decimation. From its own account, it appears the Miyetti Allah Socio-cultural Group is always hostile to peaceful efforts at resolving these unfortunate clashes with farming communities over grazing land.
He reiterated his government’s commitment to finding peaceful and legal means of resolving all conflicts within its domain and commends the Benue State House of Assembly for courageously standing on the side of law and order and for being true Representatives of our people in the speedy manner it passed the Bill into Law. There is no legal or moral basis for challenging a law that is meant to promote peace, economic development and clampdown on criminals be they armed herdsmen or cattle rustlers.
Ortom further commend the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for directing Security Agencies to ensure that the Herdsmen/ Farmers crisis across some states of the country be brought to an end.
He used the opportunity to commend the support of the good people of Benue State as demonstrated by the massive turn-out at the public hearing conducted on the Open Grazing Prohibition Bill.
He called on the people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement, gathering of people or suspicious activities of strangers to the government, police or law enforcement agencies in the state.
The group had in a press conference on 31st May 2017 in Abuja rejected the ANTI-OPEN GRAZING LAW of the Benue state and vowed to mobilize herdsmen in the country to resist the law as it was a deliberate attempt to enslave their members.”
National Secretary of the Association Engr. Saleh Alhassan has described the Anti-Open Grazing Law as “wicked, obnoxious and repressive.”