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Opposition mounts against FG’s Ruga settlement for herdsmen

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lWe won’t allow Ruga in any part of S-East — Umahi
lWe won’t cede our land to outsiders—Fayemi
lControversy on Ruga unnecessary—Lalong
lNo FG gazetted land in Benue – State govt
lRelease Ruga gazette, Southern, M-Belt leaders tell FG
lIt’s dead on arrival—YCE, Agbekoya
lYou’re nursing a hidden agenda —CAN accuses FG

By Dapo Akinrefon, Ola Ajayi, Peter Duru, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Rotimi Ojomoyela

Opposition has continued to mount against the Federal Government’s Ruga settlement programme for herdsmen in the country, as the South East governors insisted, yesterday, that there was no land for it in the region, even as Benue State government debunked claims by the Presidency that land had been gazetted in Benue and others states for the settlement.

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This is just as Southern and Middle Belt leaders, also yesterday, challenged the Presidency to release the Ruga settlement gazette number and its content, wondering in what capacity the Federal Government gazetted land in all states of the federation.

Similarly, Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, and Agbekoya Farmers’ Association described the proposed Ruga settlement as dead on arrival, while Benue State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, accused the Federal Government of nursing a hidden agenda with the introduction of Ruga settlements for herdsmen in Benue and other parts of the country.

We won’t allow Ruga in any part of SEast — Umahi

Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi State and chairman of South-Easst Governors Forum, said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, that there is no plan to establish Ruga settlement in any part of the South-East and South-South zones.

He said the regions did propose a deal with the members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, as panacea to achieving lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen.He, however, denied any plan by governors of the zones to cede any part of their land for Ruga settlement.

He said:  “There is no plan for any Ruga settlement in any part of South-East and South-South zones; but we made a proposed deal with MACBAN that can allow the zone to become very good business with sale of grasses to the herdsmen in exchange for meat.

“We actually proposed a deal with MACBAN to take their cattle to the northern parts where grazing reserves were established long time ago and rely completely on the grasses grown in the south for feeding of their cattle.”

Umahi, who was chairman of the technical committee on farmers and herdsmen clash, carved from the National Economic Council headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said the committee had recommended the revamping of existing grazing reserves in Nigeria.

We won’t cede our land to outsiders—Fayemi

On his part, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, yesterday, assured the people of the state that he would not cede any part of Ekiti land to outsiders

He said non-indigenes wishing to settle in the state or do business must respect the culture of the indigenous people and must pursue their interest in line with the law of the land.

Fayemi said in order to solidify security arrangement in the state and stamp out the recurring ceases of killing, kidnap and other crimes, there would rapid deployment of more soldiers, armed policemen and other security agencies so that people of the state can sleep with their two eyes closed.

The governor made the remarks during an early morning visit to the people of Orin-Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local Government Area to commiserate with them over the killing of a farmer and the community’s head hunter, Mr. Emmanuel Ilori, by suspected gunmen last Saturday.

Addressing community leaders and other residents, Fayemi said he was saddened by the killing of Ilori, whom he described as a one of the leaders All Progressives Congress, APC, in the town.

Controversy on Ruga unnecessary—Lalong

Speaking on the issue, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, yesterday, said the controversy over the establishment of Ruga settlements for the Fulani was uncalled for as it was the same thing with ranching.

Lalong, who is Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said in Plateau, there was nothing like Ruga but livestock business, stressing that there was nothing different between the Ruga project and the ranching under the chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

No FG gazetted land in Benue—State govt

On its part, Benue State government, yesterday, debunked claims by the Presidency that land had been gazetted by the Federal Government in Benue and others states of the federation to establish Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen.

The Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Governor, Mr. Terver Akase, in a statement in Makurdi said Governor Samuel Ortom had not given any parcel of Benue land for that purpose, hence it was not tenable.

The statement read:  “We read the statement issued yesterday by  Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu in which the Presidency stated that it has gazetted lands in the 36 states of the federation to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen.

“We wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements, contrary to the Presidency’s claim.

Release Ruga gazette, Southern, M-Belt leaders tell FG

In a similar development, Southern and Middle Belt Leaders have challenged the Presidency to release the Ruga settlement gazette number and its content, wondering in what capacity the Federal Government gazetted land in all states of the federation.

This is even as the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, and the Agbekoya Farmers’ Association described the proposed Ruga settlement as dead on arrival.

The Southern, Middle Belt leaders, in a statement by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (Souh East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt) picked holes in the Presidency’s statement through Mallam Garuba  Shehu on the contentious issue of Ruga settlements for herdsmen, saying much of the statement was full of sound fury signifying nothing.

The statement read: “It is true that government at the centre has gazetted lands in all states of the federation but because the idea is not to force this programme on anyone, the government has limited the take-off to the dozen states with valid requests.

“We are interested in having the gazette number and its content as we know per the constitution and laws of the country that all land in each state of the federation is vested in the governor.

It’s dead on arrival—YCE, Agbekoya

On its part, the Yoruba Council of Elders, the YCE, said the South-West zone of the country was not ready to accommodate Fulani herders.

In a statement signed by the council’s President, Dansaaki Agbede, in Ibadan, the YCE said the proposal ws ‘dead on arrival’ in the entire six states of the region.

Agbede said: “To now think that the Federal Government that should be concerned and worried about the untoward activities of such people is the sponsor of Ruga is worrisome and disturbing.

“Such a project is not at all in the best interest of this country as well as PMB’s Presidency and the earlier the Federal Government listens to the voice of the people by disembarking on the project, the better.”

You’re nursing a hidden agenda—CAN accuses FG

Meanwhile, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has accused the Federal Government of nursing a hidden agenda with the introduction of Ruga settlements for herdsmen in Benue and other parts of the country.

The association questioned the Federal Government’s vested interest in cattle rearing business in the country and wondered why the government was not doing same for pig farmers in Benue State.

Addressing the media, yesterday, in Makurdi, the Benue State CAN chairman, Rev. Akpen Leva, cautioned that the Federal Government’s plan was a direct affront on the constitution.

He said:  “It is unambiguous that the constitution of Nigeria empowers state governors and gives them authority over land matters.”

“We strongly believe that the !and Use Act is explicit on this issue and there is no reason the federal government would have come up with a policy to antagonise the constitutional provisions. State governments as far as land matters are concerned have right over them.

“As far as we are concerned, there is a hidden agenda in the Ruga settlement plan for herdsmen.  But we want to remind the federal government and the necessary authorities concerned that we are law abiding citizens and we respect constituted authorities.

“As law abiding citizens, we are aware of the law prohibiting open grazing in Benue State. We also expect the federal government and all its agencies and authorities concerned to have known that policies like Ruga settlement for herdsmen’ would contravene the laws of the land.

“This is why as a church in Benue State, we reject Ruga settlement for herdsmen proposed in the state. Benue, we emphasize, has no land for Ruga settlement.’’

 

 

 

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