We Warned Ortom Not To Proscribe Open Grazing ‘Overnight’ – Miyetti Allah

We Warned Ortom Not To Proscribe Open Grazing ‘Overnight’ – Miyetti Allah
Saleh Alhassan

 

The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Association says it had earlier warned the Benue State government against the anti-open grazing law in the state.

Secretary of the group, Mr Saleh Alhassan, who said this on Thursday during his appearance on Sunrise Daily, also distanced the association from the recent killings in the state.

According to him, the group had warned Governor Samuel Ortom against urgently banning open grazing in Benue as it would generate a lot of confusion.

We told him (Ortom) that look, you can’t go by that way,” Alhassan said. “The reality is that you cannot proscribe pastoralism overnight; is going to be a process that has to encompass policies and programmes that would take a period of time.”

“We have written to the government of Benue State, we have written to all the relevant security agencies, telling them why we are opposed to this law. But what His Excellency Governor Ortom did was to dismiss our organisation, claiming we don’t have members in Benue,” he added.

The group’s secretary described the law as ‘apartheid’, saying it was targeted at ousting the members of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore from Benue.

He also alleged that the law was politically motivated, stressing that the governor has no power to make any law banning herders in the Benue valley.

“What we are saying is that when His Excellency Governor Ortom wanted to create this apartheid law to chase out the pastoralists from Benue valley, who did he consult?” Alhassan questioned.

“If you look at the piece of legislation, it is entirely politically motivated. First and foremost, you cannot create laws that are at variance with the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“On the international rules that transcend Benue State’s, Ortom has no right to decree against access to pastoral resources (land and water) in the Benue valley. The river Benue doesn’t belong to the governor,” he noted.

The group further challenged the governor to come out with evidence to back his allegations that they masterminded the recent killings in Benue.

They also maintained that Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore is a ‘peace-loving organisation’ that would never support any form of violence and asked the security agencies to arrest any armed herdsmen.

On how the government can tackle some of their plights, Alhassan said, :We want a national policy that will address the challenges that are facing the pastoralists in Nigeria.

“The Benue case is not an isolated case, we are talking about conflicts. We have to be holistic in addressing these problems that are facing the pastoralists and farmers’ conflicts that are in this country.”

Open Grazing Ban Causes Tension In Benue-Nasarawa Border Communities

Benue Govt. Denies Inducement On Anti-Grazing Bill

The ban on open grazing by the Benue State government has led to tension in some communities along the state’s border with Nasarawa State.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue had signed the Anti-Grazing Law in May this year but it only came into effect today, Wednesday, November 1.

Hailed by residents of Benue State as much-needed, the law has attracted criticism from the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.

In Nasarawa where there are many herdsmen, there have equally been concerns and tension, especially in the border communities, over the ban.

In reaction to the tension, the Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State has called on residents in communities that share a border with Benue to go about their normal daily activities.

Governor Al-Makura said the government was aware of the tension in the border communities and determined to ensure adequate security to maintain law and order, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Musa Elayo.

The Governor appealed to the people in the communities not to do anything that would jeopardise the existing peaceful co-existence between the two states.

Assuring the people of his commitment to ensuring the development of the state, he said it was important for them to live in peace irrespective of tribe and religious difference.

The Governor called on the stakeholders of the affected areas to continue to encourage dialogue and sensitise the residents, especially the youth and herdsmen on the need to embrace peace and avoid rumour mongering.

According to the Governor, any person or group who tries to incite the
people to cause disunity at the border communities would be brought to justice.

Benue Govt Officially Bans Open Grazing

Benue,

The Benue State government has officially effected its ban on open grazing throughout the state.

It will be recalled that Governor Samuel Ortom on May 22, signed the anti-open grazing and anti-kidnapping, abduction, cultism and terrorism bills into law.

Ortom had said the anti-grazing law would put to an end to incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue State.

The governor lamented the destruction of lives and property in clashes involving farmers and herdsmen over the years, and promised to promote ranching since it had proved to be the best way of rearing livestock globally, hence the need to officially effect open grazing ban in the state.

Plateau Attacks: Plateau Youths Call For Ban On Open Grazing

Youths in Plateau state are demanding for the enactment of the Anti-Open Grazing law in the state to address the total destruction of rural farming communities and curtail the incessant attacks on communities arising from the farmers/herders clashes.

Addressing journalists in Jos, the youths condemned the various attacks on different communities that claimed several lives and properties, while calling on the government and security agencies to act decisively in bringing a lasting solution to the violence.

The youths, under the aegis of Plateau Youth G-17 Peace and Progressive Forum, maintained that the rights of citizens to life and protection seem to be a mirage and therefore challenged the government to live up to the responsibility of protecting lives and property.

The group’s leader, Musa Bagos, added, “With attention shifting to finding lasting solution to the continuous attacks on the state, government and its agencies should look into the suggestion of modern ranching system while investigations into the remote and immediate causes of the various attacks continue and culprits adequately face the wrath of law.”

It will be recalled that gunmen suspected to be Fulani militants had earlier unleashed mayhem in Nkiedonwhro community, Bassa Local Government Area of the state where no fewer than 27 were reportedly killed, barely 48 hours after the imposition of a dusk-to-dawn curfew by the state government.

Ortom Vows Full Implementation Of Open Grazing Prohibition Law

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has assured residents that he would implement all aspects of the Open Grazing Prohibiting Law across the state, beginning from November, 2017.

Ortom made this known when he received the National Council of Tiv Youths led by it’s President, Mr John Akperashi.

The youths were on a peaceful protest to register their concern over the recent threats made by the Miyetti Allah group, inciting herdsmen to mobilise and resist the law.

While presenting their protest letter to the governor for onward transmission to the acting President, Yemi Osinabajo, Akperashi also called for the arrest and prosecution of the Miyyeti Allah leadership for what the group considered as a hate speech.

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.

Benue Governor Signs Bill Prohibiting Open Grazing Into Law

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has signed the Open Grazing Prohibition Bill 2017, which prescribes a five-year jail term for herdsmen or pastoralist caught engaging in open grazing of animals in the state, into law.

Open grazing has been blamed for the frequent clashes between farmers and herdsmen, which has claimed hundreds of lives in the state.

The governor signed the bill into law at a stakeholders meeting at the Government House in Makurdi.

“The law brings an end to the incessant clash between livestock/herds rearers and crop farmers in the state, who in attempts to protect their respective interest, clash, kill maim and destroy persons and properties,” Governor Ortom said.

“The law also encourages large-scale livestock and crop farming in a secure  environment and the Ministry of Agriculture has been empowered to administer and regulate livestock production in the state.”

Also, under the law, the governor said it would be illegal for livestock owners or farmers to bear firearms.

He said, “Any person found guilty of open grazing, shall be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment or a fine of N1,000, 000. It is an offence if livestock to stray to the other persons’ land. No open grazing, no movement of livestock on foot within and across Benue state and no livestock owner or farmer shall carry firearms.”

Governor Ortom also signed the Anti-Kidnapping and Terrorism Law, which prescribes the death penalty for offenders.

At the stakeholders meeting, many speakers, including the Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse, and Senator George Akume, backed the governor and the law.

The Parish Priest of Saint Francis Catholic Church, Daudu, Reverend Father Solomon Mfa, who was displaced by herdsmen in 2014, thanked the governor for bringing consolation to many internally displaced persons by signing the bill into law.

He said, “With all sense of fulfilment, we have seen the promise land and all that is left is to enter the promise land which I feel will be done if this (law) is implemented.

“When the bill was passed by the Benue State House of Assembly, we saw some herdsmen going out of the state and for us who are farmers, that is a big plus because now we can access our farms without fear of being killed or slaughtered; this is a big milestone.”

Meanwhile, representatives of the herdsmen in the state have appealed for more time to enable them to establish ranches, while citizens hailed the state government for addressing the issues of insecurity.

The representative of Fulani herdsmen, Mr Garus Gololo, said, “He (Governor Ortom) said he is not driving the Fulani away from Benue State, unlike what other people have been speculating, hence the issue of ranching.

“You know, ranching is not a one-day process and we will go back and tell them what the governor said. We are fully in support of the ranches because ranches may even produce fatter cows than the one walking around.”

For many families in the state, signing the bill into law a step in the right direction, but the successful implementation is key to the return of peace to the state.