Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, has described the approach of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to establish farm settlement for herdsmen in some parts of the state as a gross violation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranching Establishment law as an insult to the sensibilities of the entire people of state.
Governor Ortom who spoke through the Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase explained that few weeks ago, that a director with federal ministry of agriculture and his team informed officials of the state ministry of agriculture that they had received directives from the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja for the establishment of Ruga in three local governments of the the state.
The governor informed that the permanent secretary, Benue state ministry of agriculture quickly drew the attention of the director and his team to the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 being implemented in the state.
According to him, they were also reminded about the Land Use Act which conferred on the governor the powers to administer lands in all parts of the state, where they left with a promise to relay the message to the headquarters.
“After all these explanations, the officials of the ministry returned a few days later with contractors to commence work on the Ruga settlements, and we find their approach not only as a gross violation of the ranching law but also as an insult to the sensibilities of the entire people of state”
The governor reiterated the earlier stand of the people and government of the state to reject cattle colonies adding that the state still rejected the policy, in whichever robes it is disguised.
Available information also revealed that the governor made the stance of the Benue people known clearly, during the unveiling of the livestock development programme in Abuja last year.
He stressed that the state would embrace the policy, only if it supported the implementation of the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law 2017.
The governor also insisted that Benue state has no land for open grazing of cattle and restated ranching as a lasting solution to the incessant herders and farmers crisis which the country ought to embrace.
Ortom however recalled that the National Economic Council, NEC, had also unanimously adopted ranching as the best method of livestock breeding for the country.
“It is therefore shocking to see the federal government turning round to establish Fulani herdsmen settlements in some states including Benue, contrary to the position of NEC”
Ortom reminded those pushing for Ruga settlements in Benue that the constitution of the country gives states the right to make laws for the governance of their people.
“I want to tell those pushing for the so call Ruga to note that any attempt to subvert such right is a direct attack on the constitution as those behind such a move are enemies of peace and progress of the state”
“The government of Benue state is willing to support cattle owners to establish ranches as stipulated by the law prohibiting open grazing”
“We however wish to reiterate that Benue state has no land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies or Ruga settlements. The state only has land for the establishment of ranches,” Ortom emphasised.
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