The Methodist Church, Nigeria has thrown its weight behind Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017 even as it called on the federal government to halt the killings in Benue and other parts of the country.
The Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence (Dr) Samuel Uche, who led top brass of the Church, among them, 4 Archbishops, 8 bishops and several other ministers from different parts of the country, on a solidarity visit to the government and people of the state, spoke yesterday at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
He said the enactment of the law is in the right direction as it is in line with global best practices in modern animal husbandry, adding that the church fully identifies with and support the anti-open grazing law passed by the state House of assembly and signed into law by Governor Samuel Ortom.
The Prelate expressed worry at the “alarming rate at which the so-called Fulani herdsmen destroy lives and properties with impunity” and called on the federal government to rise to the occasion and arrest the ugly trend, adding that “any government that cannot protect lives and properties is irrelevant, irresponsible and will not be allowed to continue in power.”
Dr Uche who said the church is neither for APC, PDP, APGA, Labour Party nor any other political party but for all Nigerians insists that anybody that will provide good governance will have its support.
As part of its contribution to ameliorating the humanitarian crisis facing the state, the Church donated 2 truck, 2 bus and 2 other vehicle loads relief materials to the Benue State government for onward distribution to the internally displaced persons.
Receiving the delegation, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom expressed happiness at the support and solidarity of Nigerians to the Benue people at this critical period in its history. He thanked the Prelate for personally leading the team to Makurdi to identify with the Benue people, and for their donation of foodstuff to the internally displaced people.
He affirmed the decision of people of the state to maintain its position on ranching as the best solution to the farmers/herdsmen crisis; notwithstanding the violence unleashed on them, adding that “Benue people are resolute and we shall see this to the end, and because, as a people, we have the right given to us by God to exist”.
Represented by his deputy, Engr Benson Abounu, Governor Ortom said what started as a Fulani/herdsmen crisis has degenerated into full-blown insurgency with the infiltration into the country of foreign fighters and mercenaries who came at the behest of the herdsmen to kill Benue people and others.
He told the visiting church leaders that the killings in the State cannot be tied to the search for grazing fields, adding that the recent killing of 2 priests and 17 parishioners in a church during morning mass shows clearly that there is a different agenda, different from the search for grazing field. “Do we have grasses in the church? Are reverend fathers farmers?”, if they are looking for grazing field, why enter into a church and kill men of God there? he asked.
Governor Ortom stated that the Benue people are against neither the President nor the Fulani people as being falsely peddled by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, adding that the anti-open grazing law, which was enacted, came to address the persistent crises between farmers and herdsmen. He explained that the law protects the farmer as well as herdsmen as it removes the source of the conflict between the two by making provisions for where they can carry out their activities without encroaching on the other.