BY HEMBADOON ORSAR, Makurdi
Benue State government has said that the latest reasons advanced by the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as the basis for its opposition to Benue State anti-open grazing law has further portrayed the group as running out of reasons for its opposition to the law.
Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Lawrence Onoja jnr, disclosed this to journalists, while reacting to the recent claim by the secretary of the socio-cultural association, Saleh Alhassan, that the law is meant to score a political point. Onoja said the claim is far from the truth.
According to him, the governor will not play politics with issues affecting lives and livelihood of the people of the state, saying, it has now become clear that the socio-cultural association is playing out a script designed to plunge Benue State and by extension the nation into avoidable conflict. “This is evident, judging by the way the herdsmen association has been fanning embers of disunity, hatred and threat to peaceful coexistence in the state,” he added.
Onoja said the claim by the association that the state’s geographical location is not suitable for ranching, is also misleading adding that Benue State geography is blessed with suitable climate for all forms of agriculture and animal husbandry.
He urged the leadership of the association not to hesitate in identifying the areas where the Benue anti-open grazing law violates the constitution of Nigeria, how it negatively affects the pastoralists sociology, economic interest or their migration pattern.
On the argument by the association that the interstate movement of pastoralists is similar to interstate commerce and that it is only the National Assembly that can legislate on that aspect as captured in item 62 of the exclusive Legislative Assembly List of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and that no state governor can stop the movement of pastoralists and because Benue is practicing primitive agriculture, it is not fit to practice ranching, Onoja described the statement as not only absurd but also misleading.
“A close look and analysis of item 62 (a) of the 1999 constitution of Exclusive Legislative List as amended, it clearly talks about trade and commerce between Nigeria and other countries including import and export of commodities, this item did not by any stretch of interpretation or imagination cover the movement of pastoralists.
The Benue State Anti-open grazing Law is essentially predicated upon section 4 (7) of the constitution of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.”