The Governor Samuel Ortom-led government of Benue State has denied rumours in some quarters that the state’s Anti-Open Grazing law which came into effect on November 1, was orchestrated to chase herdsmen away from the state.
There are reports that several herdsmen have been migrating out of Benue State since the law came into effect and the state Miyetti Allah has accused the state government of using the new grazing bill as an excuse to chase herdsmen out of the state.
But the state government in a statement through the governor’s Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Tavaz Argezua, blamed officials of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore in the state as the reason for the purported exit, accusing them of failing to encourage its members to work with the new law.
The statement read, “We have read reports in several national dailies and other media platforms credited to officials of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore claiming that Fulani herdsmen were being driven from Benue State.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. It can be recalled that a law to prohibit open grazing and establishment of ranches came into effect in the state on 1st November, 2017.
“Governor Samuel Ortom had signed the bill into law on 22nd May, 2017 but allowed a grace period of close to six months to give time to herdsmen and owners of livestock to acquire land for ranches.
“Instead of encouraging herdsmen to commence the process, officials of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore threatened through media statements to mobilize its members to resist the law and even invade the state to wreck havoc on farming communities.
“The association also went to court to challenge the legitimacy of the law and the matter is still in court. The law itself was enacted to put an end to incessant clashes between herders and farmers resulting in massive destruction of lives and property across the state over the years.
“Its objective is to bring lasting peace between the two groups in accordance with internationally accepted best practices. For herders the law also provides stiff penalties against cattle rustling including imprisonment for three years and payment of N100, 000 per animal or both.
“In case the rustler maims, injures or kills, the penalty which is much higher includes culpable homicide punishable under the provisions of the penal court. Before and after the law came into effect the state government has neither issued any quit notice to any individual or ethnic group nor driven such out of the state.”
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