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Anti-open grazing law: Inter-religious body lauds Gov Ortom

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…As Miyetti Allah denies plot to invade Benue

By Chris Ochayi & Joseph Erunke

ABUJA— Less than 72 hours to commencement of implementation of anti-open grazing law in Benue State, an inter-religious group has commended Governor Samuel Ortom for coming up with the law, describing his action as a right step towards addressing the herders/farmers’ feud in the country.

Ortom

This came as apex Fulani socio-cultural association, Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore, denied allegation that Fulani were preparing to invade Benue State with intent to kill citizens and cause restiveness in the state, following the state’s new anti-open grazing law.

The group, Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, IDFP, said at a briefing addressed by its co-chairmen and executive councils, Bishop Sunday Onuoha and Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sanni, respectively, in Abuja, enjoined other states experiencing frequent herders and farmers’ clashes to emulate Governor Ortom.

According to the group, “Yes, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, recently signed the anti-grazing bill into law and very soon, implementation of the law will commence. It is right step in right direction.

‘’The step will go a long way in addressing the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farming communities.

“We think we will encourage other states with similar challenges to key into the step taken by the state governor. “

The IDFP, however, advocated a return to traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution among herders and farmers, following wanton destruction of lives and property by herdsmen in many parts of the country.

Miyetti Allah denies plot to invade Benue

Meanwhile, Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore has denied allegation that Fulani were preparing to invade Benue State with intent to kill citizens and cause restiveness in the state following the state’s recently established anti-open grazing law.

Addressing the media, yesterday, in Abuja, National President of the group, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo, and National Secretary, Saleh Alhassan, insisted that even as the Fulani would not accept the grazing law, they would neither leave the state nor resort to invading it with the intent to kill or cause havoc.

The body, which said its denial was in the wake of last week’s allegation by the state governor, Samuel Ortom, that Fulani have orchestrated plans to invade the state to kill and cause havoc, accused the governor of having sinister motive against the Fulani with his allegation.

“How can a Nigerian ask other Nigerians to leave a place they are constitutionally entitled to be?” the group said.

On the call for his arrest and that of National Secretary, Saleh Alhassan, the group said Governor Ortom was using threat and blackmail tactics, knowing he was committing illegalities.

“We are law-abiding and have always been championing peace and amicable resolutions of conflicts between pastoralists and farmers, the records are there. This was why we went to the court over this matter rather than resort to self-help,” he said.

He also questioned the governor’s claim that the law was meant to protect both the farmers and herders alike, saying there was no provision for the so called ranches except the intent to establish six detention centres where seized or ‘arrested’ cattle would be kept and auctioned after seven days, thus legitimizing cattle rustling.

“The governor was also not specific on the fines for cattle rustling unlike the specific penalties for pastoralists who can be accused of open grazing,” he added.

He, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians to call Governor Ortom to order in the interest of peace and well-being of the state and the nation.

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