Stakeholders of Ukum local government area of Benue state have threatened legal action, against the Federal government over the plan to create Ruga for herdsmen in some parts of the state.
At a stakeholders meeting on Saturday held at the council hall, Sankera, the local government headquarters, the people outrightly rejected the proposed project and warned the federal government to abort the decision.
They warned that should the federal government defy their warning, they will explore all available legitimate means including legal action to protect their ancestral heritage.
In their separate speeches, a two term senator representing Benue North East senatorial district and former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Professor Daniel Saror said the people were dumb founded when the news broke out.
Senator Saror who spoke through a representative expressed surprise over the unilateral decision of the federal government and wondered under whose authorisation the federal government has come up with such an unpopular decision since according to him, he was not aware of any communication between the federal government and any authority in the state in whose custody the 1978 Land Use Act and a 1960 judgment from federal High Court Abuja gave land ownership to.
He said the ruga project will be better limited to states like Sokoto, Katsina or Kano which have larger land.
Other speakers at the meeting including the Ter Ukum, His Royal Highness Chief Orkaa Kaave, care taker chairman of Ukum local government council Tor Tyokaa Ibellogo and a former state house of assembly member for Ukum state constituency, Dan Abagu.
They all condemned the proposed Ruga settlements in the local government area and called on federal government to explore other areas to acquire land for such project in order not to deny the people access to their only means of livelihood.
Meanwhile hundreds of Ukum people in the sstate have expressed their grievances against the proposed establishment of “Ruga Settlements” in the area and some parts of the state.
The protest lead by Mr. Gideon Tyozenda were seen chanting solidarity songs and carrying placards with different inscriptions: “NO LAND FOR INTRUDERS”, OUR HERITAGE CAN’T BE TEMPERED WITH”, “WE CONDEMN RUGA SETTLEMENT IN UKUM” as well as RUGA SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED IN THE FAR NORTH among many others.
The youths who vowed that they will defend their heritage at all cost said the proposed Ruga settlement by federal government was a deliberate strategy to annex their ancestral land for herdsmen to rear their cattle thereby depriving them of their only source of livelihood.
Addressing the protesters at the local government council secretariat, the Caretaker chairman Honourable Ibellogo Tor Tyokaa accompanied by the chairman Ukum Traditional Council led by Ter Ukum, HRH Arc. Orkaa Kaave said they were at the local government secretariat in solidarity with their feelings and promised to convey their message to the state governor Samuel Ortom through the council chairman.