BENUE DEFENDS ANTI-OPEN GRAZING LAW AT KADUNA MEETING

By Ede Ogaba Ede

Benue state has put up a solid defence of its anti-open grazing law enacted by the State House of Assembly and assented to by Governor Samuel Ortom in the full glare of stakeholders of the state on Monday, 22nd May, insisting it is irrevocable.

The state position was iterated at the meeting of the Northern Governors Forum and Northern Traditional Council going on at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.

Engr Benson Abounu, Benue state acting governor who presented the position of the state told the meeting that the law was a necessity enacted to curb a terrible menace that has affected the state for about 8 years now.

He told the gathering that due to the attacks by the herdsmen, the state has lost over 3000 persons with hundreds of homes burnt, several communities displaced, and farmland and crops running into millions of naira either eaten or destroyed by the cows.

He lamented that in spite of the frequency of the attack and the destruction caused by the herdsmen, not one person has ever been arrested and prosecuted; the security agents completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems.

He told the meeting that people opposing the law do so ignorantly stating that, it is not targeted against any person or groups of persons; rather it is a carefully worked out law that addresses a burning problem using internationally accepted best practices of ranching.

Engr Abounu informed the gathering that the law not only criminalized unhindered open grazing by animals but also prohibit cattle rustling by criminal elements.

It could be recalled that the passage of the anti-open grazing law by the Benue state of Assembly and its signing into law by Governor Samuel Ortom generated mixed reactions with the Benue people applauding it while several Fulani people and groups, one of them, the Myetti Allah cattle Breeders Association criticizing it and launching salvos of attacks on Governor Ortom, calling on the Benue people to vote him out in 2019.

The meeting which is also looking at the issue of restructuring among other important issues comes to a close on Friday.

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