PAN-Northern socio-cultural group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, said it had constituted a committee on how best to handle the anti-open grazing law which has been a bone of contention in some parts of the North.
The implementation of the law is currently causing crises in Benue, Taraba and Adamawa states, leading to the killing of hundreds of citizens and the destruction of property.
The Secretary-General of the ACF, Anthony Sani, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna via the telephone on Friday that the constitution of the committee became necessary because the forum believed the clashes bordered on occupation rather than on ethnicity or religion.
Sani, who did not name members of the committee, blamed governors for enacting laws that were not “implementable” just as he knocked the Fulani herdsmen for not “forgiving those who offended them.”
He said, “The ACF has actually constituted a committee on how best to go about the anti-open grazing law with a view to stopping clashes between herdsmen and farmers and improving the volume and quality of the livestock industry in the country.
“This is because the forum believes the clashes border on occupation rather than on ethnicity or religion. The committee has yet to submit its reports to the forum. It is after the submission of the report that well-informed positions on this important subject can be taken. Any law which cannot be implemented for whatever reasons in the interest of all the people should be reconsidered for performance.
“How frustrated we are with the challenges of community living should not make us believe that acts of revenge can address our concerns and bring about the peace needed for socio-economic development.
“There can be no justification for taking it out on innocent people under the pretext of revenge through reprisals. If God can forgive our transgressions, we should also forgive those who transgress against us.
“So, let the herdsmen and farmers come together and unleash their synergy against the collective challenges for a common interest. The two occupations are not mutually exclusive.”
Herdsmen attacks, a national challenge —Ortom
The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, described attacks on farmers by Fulani herdsmen as a national challenge that required the cooperation of all Nigerians to surmount.
He spoke in Makurdi, Benue State capital, on Friday when he received a delegation of the Arewa Consultative Forum, led by its Chairman, Senator John Shagaya, at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
Ortom said, “Several states, including Zamfara, Adamawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ogun, Abia, and Niger, have suffered attacks, which indicates that the problem transcends individual states.
“I saw the photograph of President Muhammadu Buhari at his ranch in Daura, Katsina State recently. This gave Nigerians the direction that ranching is the way to go in animal husbandry and as a disciplined person, the President knows what is good for the country.”
The governor, however, stated that he had forgiven all those whose actions and words had caused pains to the people of the state.
Earlier, Shagaya, who said they were in the state to mourn with the government and the people over the killings, condemned the killings while commending Ortom for maintaining calm, law and order despite the callous act. He described the perpetrators of the attacks as enemies of the state and agents of disunity.
Al-Makura tackles Ortom
However, the Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, had earlier stated that the anti-open grazing law implemented by Ortom was unnecessary.
The governor described as most unfortunate the accusation by the Benue State governor that militias had a camp in Tunga, Nasarawa State.
Al-Makura said, “This is a stigma. It can spark up crisis. The Tiv people are bona fide citizens of Nasarawa State. They have equal rights and privileges. I will protect them until such a time the crisis subsists. Ninety-five per cent of the Internally Displaced Persons we have in Awe are Tiv people.”
Police probe Ortom’s allegation on killer herdsmen’s camp in Nasarawa
Based on Ortom’s allegation that killer herdsmen had a camp in Tunga, Nasarawa State, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, said the police would investigate.
Idris, at a meeting with stakeholders in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital, said, “We are going to send a special investigative team to Tunga to investigate and evaluate the allegations.”
He promised that he would study all the presentations and make an appropriate recommendation to President Buhari with a view to finding lasting solutions to the crisis.
Also, a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, Orker Jev, suggested the establishment of military bases in the flashpoints in Benue State, where Fulani herdsmen have been killing people over the anti-open grazing law.
He told journalists, “Definitely, the establishment of a military base in Benue State will be part of the moves to address the situation. The police are incapable; their training will not help in resolving this issue. It is the military who have the capacity to combat this kind of security challenge.”
On his part, the founder of Uma Ukpai Evangelistic Association, Revd. Uma Ukpai, said the killings in Benue State would worsen the existing tension in the country.
Speaking in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, on Friday, the cleric stated, “What is happening in Benue is borne out of lack of conscience and is regrettable that our leadership has not played its role. It is also an evidence of the curse that Nigeria is suffering from.
“Will the feeding of the cattle of those herdsmen be placed above the lives of the dead? How were those cattle fed before? Were they killing people before in order to feed their cattle? It still boils down to the fact that the leadership has not played its role because the people involved in this thing are known and the leaders know where they are.”
Set up ranches, raise your cows, Afenifere tells southerners
In the meantime, pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has advised southerners to establish their own ranches.
The group also endorsed the Benue State’s anti-open grazing law, stating that more states should make laws prohibiting cattle grazing in their jurisdiction.