By Peter Duru
MAKURDI—Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has reiterated his commitment to approach the International Criminal Court, ICC, at The Hague, to have Benue people protected from herdsmen attacks as the Open Grazing Prohibition Law comes into effect today.
Addressing thousands of Benue people, including youths and non-indigenes resident in the state under the aegis of Street Movement Against Ravages in Benue, during a solidarity/sensitisation walk to mark the end of open grazing in the state, the governor said he will not renege on his avowed determination to protect the lives and properties of the people.
Represented by his Deputy, Mr. Benson Abounu, Governor Ortom said: “As a law-abiding government that believes in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we will not shy away from our responsibilities to protect the lives of all the inhabitants of Benue State against any forceful perpetration of criminal injustices.
“That is why this law came into being, And from November 1 (today), the law will come into full force because for close to five years herdsmen killed thousands of Benue people and it was almost becoming a pogrom.
“If it means going to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, talking to people, sensitising, singing and shouting, this government will go the whole hog to protect the lives and properties of our people.”
Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo communities back Ortom
Earlier, speaking on behalf of the Benue Youths Forum, Mr. Daniel Nyikagh, who declared the support of all Benue youths for Governor Ortom, said: “The law is the panacea to the pogrom we witnessed in our state; it is not intended to chase anyone away, but to ensure peaceful coexistence.
Speaking on behalf of displaced persons, Reverend Father Solomon Mffa, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari must speak out against the activities of herdsmen in the country, because the killing of innocent persons is worst than corruption.”
The leaders of Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa communities, who spoke at the occasion, pledged their support for Ortom, the law and its full implementation.
Many of the participants bore placards with inscriptions such as ‘No more wild grazing in Benue,’ ‘Benue people stand with Governor Samuel Ortom,’ ‘Herdsmen respect our laws,’ ‘We are tired of burying our people’ and ‘Open grazing prohibition law is for peaceful coexistence.’