Benue’s Position On Grazing Reserves Remains Unchanged, Says Ortom

File photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said his administration has not embraced cattle colonies or grazing reserves as part of efforts to end the herder/farmer crisis in the state.

The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, accused a presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, of giving a false narrative on his stand on the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).

Ortom said Onochie made it seem like the state supports grazing reserves, because Benue is listed as one of the states that applied for funds from the Federal Government for the purposes of establishing ranches.

This is even as he noted the state government only agreed to key into the NLTP because it was approved by the National Economic Council (NEC).

READ ALSO: Appeal Court To Decide Fate Of PDP Convention On Friday

According to Ortom, Benue will only implement aspects of the plan that suits its peculiarities.

“Onochie made spurious allegations, painting the picture that Governor Ortom supports RUGA because the State Government was listed as one of the states that applied for funds from the Federal Government for the purposes of establishing ranches,” the statement partly read.

“It is on record that Governor Ortom has rejected all manner of coinage from the Federal Government in a bid to grab land from Benue State.

“When the Federal Government toyed with so many ideas, ranging from Open Grazing, Grazing Reserves, Grazing Routes, Cattle Colony, RUGA and lastly Farm Centres in the 109 Senatorial Districts across the country in a very suspicious manner, Governor Ortom rose up and opposed it. He rejected any of such policies bring imposed  on Benue. He has not shifted from that position.

“The Benue State Government only accepted to key into the National Livestock Transformation Program (NLTP) because the National Economic Council (NEC), which has the 36 state governors as members, approved the National Livestock Transformation Plan which after series of engagement incorporated suggestions by stakeholders from the State.

The NLTP was introduced by the federal government to address the farmer-herder crisis in the country.

As of June, the ministry of agriculture said 22 states and the federal capital territory (FCT) have registered for the project.

Ranching Is Private Business, Acknowledge Edo Method – Obaseki Tells FG

 

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said that ranching is a private business and must be treated as such.

Speaking after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday, Obaseki said Edo people would rather invest privately in the ranching business. Obaseki told newsmen at the State House that the clashes between farmers and herders could be resolved with a full implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP).

He, however, urged the Federal Government to “acknowledge” the Edo State model. Throwing some more light on the model of his state, Obaseki said those involved in ranching are expected to provide the land.

The governor stated that during his interaction with President Buhari, he tabled his people’s opinion as regards the ranching practice. Further making a case for his state, Obaseki said the NLTP should be able to “help Edo people benefit from the funding that is now being made available for people who want to go into the livestock business and have made investments in ranches and other similar livestock programmes,”.

Obaseki explained that the private view of the ranching exercise is a key reason the Edo State Government is yet to promulgate a law banning open grazing.

“As you know, most southern states have passed laws relating to open grazing but Edo State has not. Because we want to ensure that whatever laws we pass are laws that we can enforce.”

At the briefing, the governor also debunked rumours suggesting that he would be returning to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He stated that as a politician of repute, his conscience would not allow him to betray those who gave him shelter when there was a political storm.

Obaseki explained that he did not leave the APC on his own terms, but was forced out, an action he says will not allow him to leave the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)where he got support in his time of need.

“I think I’ve shown that I’m a politician with integrity and I have made it very clear that I didn’t leave the other party on my own. I was pushed out of the party, and someone else gave me cover, gave me an opportunity.

“It will not be the right thing to do to now leave who helped you, who gave you the umbrella in your storm, and then go back to the person who pushed you out.”

READ ALSO: [Defection Rumours] I Won’t Return To Where I Was Pushed Out – Obaseki

A Case For E-Transmission 

President Muhammadu Buhari in an elbow bump with Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State during the governor’s visit to the Nigerian leader at the State House on Wednesday, September 13th, 2021. Photo: Facebook/Femi Adesina.

 

Reacting to the Senate’s decision to reverse its earlier resolution on electronic transmission of election results, Governor Obaseki said he remains a proponent of the course.

According to the governor, PDP would not have won the last election in Edo State, but for the deployment of technology by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“If not for the technology utilised by INEC, and God, I may not be governor today. So, I am one of those people who believe that we cannot and should not have elections in this country, going into the future, without transmitting results electronically from the polling units, because for elections to be credible, they have to be seen as transparent and once you have voted, you should be assured that your vote will count.

“With technology today, it is possible and INEC has shown it from my elections, that as soon as you voted, and the results have been counted in the polling units, then that result should be made available, such that you already know what you expect to be collated at the ward collation points.

“What has happened in many cases in the past is that people go and vote, the votes are counted in the polling units. They know, but by the time it gets to the collation point, it changes.

“But this time around, because of the transparency, everybody will see and know what they are expecting to be collated from the polling units. That is what happened in my election.

“So, I am a very strong advocate for electronic transmission of results from elections and I want to also note that from my personal experience, INEC has the capacity, INEC has the technology, and also the understanding of how these things should work,” Obaseki said.

 

Northern Governors, Traditional Rulers Meet In Kaduna Over VAT, Insecurity And Others

A cross section of northern leaders during the meeting.

 

The Northern Governors’ Forum and traditional rulers from the region are holding an emergency meeting in Kaduna State. 

Top on the agenda at the meeting are issues relating to the Value Added Tax (VAT), insecurity and economic problems confronting the region.

The meeting, which is taking place at the Executive Council Chamber of the Kaduna State Government House, is chaired by the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong. 

Those in attendance include the governors of Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Borno, Nasarawa, Jigawa and Gombe.

The governors of Niger, Kogi, Benue, Niger, Zamfara and Taraba states are represented by their deputies.

The deputy governor of Kogi State, Edward Onoja and others during the meeting.

 

Also present are the Sultan of Sokoto and the Chairman of Northern Traditional Rulers Council, Abubakar Saad.

The Shehu of Borno, the Emir of Zazzau, Nuhu Bamali, Estu Nupe, Emir of Kano and other royal fathers are also attending the meeting. 

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The governors and traditional rulers are expected to take a string of decisions during the meeting.

 

In his remark, the host governor, Nasir El-Rufai said the northern region is facing severe economic and security challenges that require the convening of the emergency meeting between the governors and traditional rulers.

According to El-Rufai, the forum will help chart a way forward to deal with these issues. 

While highlighting the agenda for the meeting, the chairman of the forum, Simon Lalong, disclosed that the governors will take a common position on VAT collection and the surrounding controversies.

Some of the traditional rulers at the meeting.

 

Last month, the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had in a judgement held that Rivers State has the power to collect VAT within its jurisdiction.

However, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) challenged the judgement of the lower court at the Appeal Court.

At the Court of Appeal, Lagos State also filed an application to be joined with Rivers State as co-defendant in the appeal filed by FIRS.

After debates and deliberations, the Appeal Court ordered parties in the suit to maintain status quo pending the determination of the appeal.

Ondo Govt Will Reject Money To Trace Grazing Routes – Governor Akeredolu

A file photo of Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu

 

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said his state would reject funding to trace grazing routes. 

The governor stated this on Friday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today. 

“Ondo State has not received any money. But if money is being given out to trace grazing routes, you can be sure that Ondo State will not receive that,” he said.

“There is no grazing route anywhere; we are not going to allow that to happen. We have seen modern animal husbandry. That is what should be our concern now. We are not to allow routes; routes to where?”

Grazing In The Open?

Clashes between herdsmen and farmers have been an age-long issue in Nigeria. LUIS TATO / AFP

 

Ondo, the Sunshine State, is one of the states that have signed the anti-grazing bill into law.

On August 31, Governor Akeredolu assented to the bill after it was earlier passed by the Ondo State House of Assembly.

He explained that the development is in line with the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting in Lagos where September 1 was set as the deadline for members to enact the anti-open grazing law.

Despite criticisms from several quarters, Akeredolu, who is also the Chairman of the forum, maintains there is no going back on the law.

He explained his state is encouraging ranching to cater for livestock, rather than open grazing.

“We are saying you will not graze in the open. We have passed the law. So, there is no route we are going to allow anybody to trace in Ondo State.

“What we have said is very clear. But if there is money for us to have ranches, we are encouraging ranching. There is nothing wrong with it. I have always argued this point,” Akeredolu insisted.

UPDATED: Southern Governors Meet In Enugu

Governor Ugwuanyi (left) exchanging greetings with his Delta counterpart, Ifeanyi Okowa.

 

Members of the Southern Governors’ Forum have met in Enugu on Thursday, just about two months after they converged in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos State.

Governors who first arrived at the meeting included Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos; Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State; Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; and Bayelsa’s Douye Diri.

They were received at the Government House, Enugu, by the host, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

While there was no officially published agenda for the meeting, the governors  deliberated on the ongoing Value Added Tax (VAT) battle between states and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), open grazing and security issues.

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The governors are expected to deliberate on the ongoing VAT battle between the FIRS and states.

 

Thursday’s meeting came just over two months after the governors met in Lagos State where they made a series of decisions including banning open grazing.

The governors had set September 5 as the deadline for states in southern Nigeria to promulgate the anti-open grazing law.

Although only seven states – Ebonyi, Abia, Bayelsa, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo – beat the deadline, more states have enacted the law banning open grazing.

Enugu, Lagos, and Akwa Ibom were the latest states to enact the law against open grazing.

Governor Ugwuanyi welcoming Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.

 

Aside from issues around open grazing, the governors also agreed that Nigeria’s next president [in 2023] should be from the southern part of the country.

They equally affirmed their commitment to Nigeria’s unity, restating calls for state policing among other issues.

Benue Open Grazing Ban Having ‘Havoc Effect’ On Cross River – Ayade

Benue Open Grazing Ban Affecting Cross River, Ayade Laments
File photo

 

Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade says the enforcement of the Open Grazing Law in neighbouring Benue State is causing havoc in his state.

The governor made the claims on Monday in Calabar, the state capital after suspected herdsmen from Benue invaded a community in Cross River, killing one and injuring others.

Addressing a press conference after a closed-door meeting with heads of security agencies in the state, Ayade condemned the invasion and called on the Federal Government to intervene in the matter to prevent reprisals.

READ ALSOOne Reported Dead As Herdsmen Invade Community In Cross River

“Currently, the situation is where farmers feel a deep sense of loss with the continuous grazing on their economic crops while the herdsmen are also desperately looking for pasture to sustain their cattle, it’s a complex situation,” he said.

“But obviously, this passage of the Anti-Open Grazing Law fully in Benue State and its implementation is taking a havoc effect on Cross River State.”

The governor also lamented that the state government is under pressure from the affected community to ensure that the herdsmen are relocated elsewhere for the sake of peace.

He said, “Today, as I speak, Cross River State government is under very intense pressure from her citizens to also do same by passing the same law.”

“The Federal Government must have the moral courage to address this issue because if we pass a stiff law against open grazing, and another state does, and another state does, then we are wiping out that trade and we are wiping out the means of livelihood of a people.

“But if on the other hand we also do nothing, and they continue to wipe out the crops of people, then they will wipe out the crops of a people and a people; this is not what the Federal Government should leave in the hands of a people,” he added.

Herdsmen Protest Against Anti-Grazing Bill At Taraba Assembly

The herdsmen started their protest on Monday, June 12

No fewer than 2,000 herdsmen and their affiliates stormed the Taraba State House of Assembly in protest against the proposed anti-open grazing bill in the state.

The protesters converged on Jalingo, the Taraba state capital, and embarked on a procession through major streets before arriving at the State House of Assembly.

Bearing placards with different inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs in Hausa, they expressed their rejection of the proposed bill.

Security operatives were at the entrance of the Assembly to avert a breakdown of law and order and to prevent the protesters from advancing beyond their bounds.

Despite their presence, the protesters were relentless in their bid to make their grievances heard and pushed against some of the security personnel.

It took the intervention of the leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to bring the situation under control.

The Chairman of the Association in the state, Alhaji Sahabi Mahmud, told the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Abel Peter, and some principal officers who came out to listen to the protesters that the proposed bill is unconstitutional and aimed at depriving them of their livelihood.

Responding to their request, the Speaker said there is the need for the state government to encourage ranching in Taraba State.

The Speaker later told journalists that the laws of the state is not for any particular group and urged people to take time and study the bill.

According to the Speaker, the right place for the protesters to table their complaint is at the public hearing and not the House.

The Prohibition of Open Grazing Bill and the Establishment of Ranches in Taraba State 2017 is an executive bill which has passed second reading and is due for public hearing.

The Speaker explained that the bill is aimed at preventing clashes between herdsmen which would be beneficial to the state.

He allayed the fears of the protesters that the bill is aimed at depriving herders of their livelihood, saying instead it is meant to improve the lives of livestock and herders.

 

According to the speaker, when passed and signed into law, the bill will checkmate the activities of criminals hiding under the guise of grazing to perpetrate all forms of crime.

He explained that the bill will not stop herdsmen from coming into the state but it will require herdsmen in the state to obtain permits.

Ekiti and Benue are the only two states in the country that have so far passed anti-open grazing bills and signed them into law.

Herdsmen: No Free Land For Grazing In Edo, Says Obaseki

Herdsmen: No Free Land For Grazing In Edo, Says ObasekiEdo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, says the state cannot be compelled to provide land for free as grazing reserve for herdsmen.

Governor Obaseki stated this during a courtesy visit on Tuesday by the State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the Government House in Benin City, the state capital.

He said cattle rearing is like other economic activities, adding that those who want to engage in the business must be ready to operate it just the way other private businesses are done in the state.

“As far as I’m concerned, grazing is an economic activity if they (the herdsmen) go to the local governments who feel they have the land, they have the water etc.

“In fact, anybody who wants to come and graze and pay, let them come so that they will do so,” the governor said.

He also described the debate over allocating lands as grazing sites for herdsmen in Edo State as a nonissue which should not bother the people.

Ekiti Government And Herdsmen Sign Peace Agreement

Ekiti Government And Herdsmen Sign Peace AgreementThe Ekiti state government has signed a peace agreement with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria on the anti-grazing law.

The State Governor, Mr Ayo Fayose said there is no going back on the law as he insisted that government’s responsibility is to ensure the safety of the lives and property of Ekiti citizens.

The south-west chairman of the association, Alhaji Kabir Mohammed promised that the herdsmen will do everything to ensure peace prevails in the state.

The operations of the Grazing Enforcement Marshall, established to enforce the Ekiti State Government’s Anti-Grazing Act was suspended on Tuesday after issues were raised by the herders’ association, claiming that some of the animals were killed by the officials.

Governor Ayodele Fayose said they would stay suspended for few days to enable the state address issues raised.

“They have demanded that I should allow them three days for them to move some of these cattle to permanent areas where they will be grazing. So, I have suspended the activities of the marshals for the next five days,” he saidd.

Governor Fayose expressed happiness that the leaders of the of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeder’s Association, decided to contact the state government instead of listening to rumours being peddled around by the opposition.

He, however, debunked the claims that cattle were killed by the marshals.

“The marshals are not armed. There is total misinformation about killing of cows, shooting of cows. It is pure political and misinformation,” he said.

The Ekiti State Government’s Anti-Grazing Act prohibits herders from indiscriminate movement within the State with their animals at specified time.

Suspected Herdsmen Kill Six In Another Kaduna Attack

herdsmen, kaduna killings, Godogodo villageGunmen suspected to be herdsmen have again attacked Godogodo village in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State, killing at least six persons.

The latest attack comes barely two weeks after unidentified gunmen killed 11 people and burnt down houses in three villages within the same local government.

An eyewitness said the gunmen stormed the village and told the villagers that their land has been earmarked for grazing and ordered them to vacate the area.

The farmers resisting their order, the gunmen opened fire on them and killed six people on the spot.

The Kaduna State Police Public Relations Officer, Aliyu Usman, who confirmed the incident, said that some people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

He added that more policemen have been deployed to the area to maintain law and order.

However, the Chairman of Kaduna State Chapter of Miyetti Allah, Haruna Usman, described the killing as an act of vengeance.

He said that the suspected herdsmen might have stormed the village to revenge the death of one of their leaders who was killed in one of the villages sometime ago.

Herdsmen Attacks: Benue State To Prohibit Open Grazing

herdsmen, herdsmen attacks, Benue State, GrazingThe Benue State Government has forwarded a bill to the State House of Assembly to outlaw and ban open grazing of cattle in the state in order to curb clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

Governor Samuel Ortom disclosed this to the people of Sankera in the Benue North East senatorial district at the ongoing state-wide town hall meetings to engage the people in participatory democracy.

Mr Ortom spoke to journalist shortly after the town hall meeting and explained that the move became necessary following the incessant herdsmen attacks and recent killing of over 10 persons in Logo and Ukum Local Government last week Saturday.

Mr Ortom, while responding to the demand for protection, disclosed that an executive bill prohibiting open grazing has been sent to the state assembly.

Governor Ortom also met with the Jemgbagh clan of old Gboko province, the Igede people of Oju and Obi council areas, where he held the former administration responsible for looting and plunging the state into indebtedness.

The Sankera people are known for large scale farming of rice and yam. They came together in Katsina-Ala to demand action from the federal and state government over the killing of their people.

Nigeria To Establish Grazing Reserves To End Clashes

grazing_reservesDisturbed by the ugly clashes between cattle grazers and farmers in various parts of the country, Nigerian  government on Monday approved the constitution of a committee to work out modalities for establishing grazing reserves across the country.

Consequently, a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) made up of governors of the 36 states of the federation and some ministers has been set for Thursday, this week to give teeth to the proposed policy aimed at finding a lasting solution to the clashes that had led to the death of over 50 persons since the beginning of 2014.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, who disclosed this at the Presidential Villa, after a  meeting chaired byVice President Namadi Sambo,  cited recent communal clashes between Fulani cattle grazers and farmers in Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau States and other parts of the country, noting that government has resolved to address the issue head-on.

He disclosed that the grazing reserve would also help to check the smuggling of arms and ammunition across the Nigerian borders by foreigners who come into the country disguised as cattle grazers

Dr Adesina announced that the government had put in place short term measure including the creation of new functional grazing reserves, deployment of satellite imagery, remote sensing and GPS maps to track movement of animals across the country.