The 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.
Representatives of Benue communities are demanding the sum of 100 billion Naira as compensation for victims of suspected herdsmen attacks in Benue State.
They put up this demand at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs.
The one day public hearing was to look at the alarming influx of unidentified herdsmen into Benue State and the threat to life and property in the state.
Different community groups from the state, the Police IG and the Deputy Governor of Benue State gathered to make their contributions.
The efforts of the Police so far and the intervention of the federal government in combating the situation was on the front burner.
The committee heard from the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, who highlighted some of the steps being taken to address the crisis.
He said that they have apprehended some persons and investigations were ongoing.
While representatives of the community groups suggested how the situation can be managed, the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Benson Abounu, also put forward the measures recommended by the state government towards resolving the issues.
The lawmakers sympathized with the people of Benue State and appealed to the representatives of the community groups to let peace reign while efforts are being by the government made to bring the situation under control.
The Progressive Governor’s Forum on Thursday endorsed cattle ranching against the proposed grazing reserve areas, to minimize the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen across the country.
The APC governors arrived at the decision in Makurdi the Benue State capital where a delegation from the forum paid a solidarity visit to the Benue State Governor over the killings of farmers by armed herdsmen operating in the state.
Community and opinion leaders gathered to listen to the much need message of hope and ways of ending the armed herdsmen killings of Benue farmers in the villages.
The host governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, briefed the APC governors on the criminal activities of the herdsmen and lamented the inability of the security agencies to make a single arrest of the invaders.
Moved by the agonizing stories of how human lives were being wasted in the state, the APC governors, asked Nigerians to hold them responsible if the government fails to secure their lives.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Imo State, Mr Rochas Okorocha, said this as he warned against the consequences of ignoring the herdsmen attacks on Benue communities.
The Governor of Niger State, Abubarka Bello, also added the forum’s voice to the campaign for the establishment of ranches instead of the proposed grazing reserve areas.
He said that ranches will minimize frictions between farmers and herdsmen.
Before the visiting Progressive Governors left the state, Governor Ortom treated them to a change of clothes into the Benue unity attires to underscore the need for peace across the country.
The attacks on nine council areas of Benue State by herdsmen have continued to attract reactions from the Agatu community.
Civil rights activists and survivors of the attack have gone on a protest in Makurdi, the Benue State capital to air their grievances.
They are calling for the intervention of the state and federal authorities in the crisis.
The children of the community also joined their parents to protest against the violence which had left hundreds of people dead and others displaced.
One of the protesters accused the Benue State Police Command of bias, an allegation the Commissioner of Police denied.
“We invited the young man to this office and I told him (that) from the security information we had at hand, he should postpone this disposition until next week because hoodlums are going to catch down on the situation,” the Police Commissioner said.
As the residents of Agatu community drew attention to the situation to prevent re-occurrence, they also requested for the deployment of special security forces to maintain peace in Benue State in Nigeria’s central region.