…As cattle breeders’ association gives condition for Benue killings to stop
The governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has opposed the cattle colonies initiative of the federal government and threw his weight behind any other move, including military option to end incessant killings in the state.
It would be recalled that the minister of agriculture and rural development, Mr. Audu Ogbe had said at a strategy retreat for civil servants and political appointees of the ministry in Abuja on January 8 that the federal government had proposed to establish cattle colonies in states across the country to curb increasing cases of clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
But speaking in Abuja today after having a closed do meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Villa, Ortom said he would not support cattle colonies initiative until he understood the concept.
He said he briefed the president on the telephone immediately the killings immediately the killings of New Year’s Eve and January 2 took place and thereafter felt there was the need for him to meet Buhari personally after a relative normalcy had returned to the areas of conflict.
“Anything that can stop the killings of my people, I will go for it. I support it. Any policy or any directive, anything that will help stop the killing of these innocent people who are not armed, I will support it because this cannot continue.
“We know that the continuity of this will create greater challenges. I don’t want it to continue. We are struggling with economic issues, we are struggling with political issues and we are struggling with several other issues in this country, security issues and all that, Benue State should not be part of this, there is no need for it,” said Ortom.
Meanwhile, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), has said that the anti-open grazing act enacted by the Benue State House of Assembly and signed into law by the government to regulate cow grazing in the state must be modified for peace to reign in the state.
The secretary general of the association, Mr. Usman Ngelzerma, who stated this in an interview, said the governor was working on wrong advice.
“The Benue State governor is a peace-loving person but is working on wrong advice. The approach he took is wrong. You cannot change the way of life of a people like the way you turn off a light switch.
“We don’t wish for the crisis to continue but let us give it (the law) another look. We don’t like the killings; we will never condone the killing of people. Give the farmers their rights but consider the pastoralists too,” he said.
It would be recalled that suspected herdsmen killed over 50, including Benue State Livestock Guards in coordinated attacks in Gaambe-Tiev, Ayilamo and Turan all in Logo local government area as well as Umenger, Tse-Akor and Tomatar near Tse-Abi in Nongov district of Guma local government area.
The heavily armed murderous gang was said to have descended on the communities around 9pm on New Year’s Eve and continued the killing, plundering and destruction of properties till around 4am on January 2.