…raise alarm over influx of armed herders into Benue
By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Benue state government has impounded 376 cows and six-armed herders in Kaseyo, Guma Local Government Area, LGA, for violating the state’s grazing law.
Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Benson Abounu who made the disclosure in Makurdi also raised concerned about the massive influx of heavily armed herders into the state.
He expressed the worry of the government over the development explaining that the government had also commenced investigation into the recent alarm raised by the Nasarawa state Governor over the deployment of suspected Boko Haram members on the Benue/Nasarawa border.
“While we are still investigating, we have been able to ascertain the fact that there appears to be a massive deployment of herdsmen and cattle on the brink of River Benue but on the Nasarawa state bank.
“We also observed that a good number of herdsmen are heavily armed with AK47 rifles. As if this was not enough we have been able to apprehend a good number of them, six of them, in a village called Kaseyo in Guma Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue state.
“In fact on January 23, a total of 156 cows belonging to these herdsmen were apprehended. And on 26 another 220 cows were apprehended from the same vicinity.
“And it was observed that the herdsmen were not the ordinary herdsmen because they were heavily armed. So I want to make it abundantly clear that Benue state is not in any way intending to abrogate our grazing law.
“The law has come to stay and its been working very well. The Chief aim of the law is the prevention of conflict between herders and farmers.
“So to that extent, I think the law has been very successful because we have not been having any conflict between herders and farmers in recent time.
“But it appears as if something is beginning to happen that is why we are raising this alarm.
“There is a massive deployment of cows along the River Benue in Agatu LGA and along the same river in Gwer West LGA just as we have been able to catch some of them red-handed in Guma LGA.
“We want o make it abundantly clear again that these herders must not enter Benue to graze their cows openly in violation of our law.
“They are free to come and apply for land and establish ranches to do their cattle business that is what we stand on and anything outside that will not be accepted,” the Deputy Governor said.
Mr Abounu stated that the development had been deliberated on at the recent Security Council meeting assuring that action was being taken “but it is not what I can announce now until it is concluded,” he said.