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I am waiting to see who will trespass, break our grazing law - Ortom declares

I am waiting to see who will trespass, break our grazing law - Ortom declares

- Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has warned Fulani herdsmen against violating grazing law

- The grazing law took effect in Benue state on Wednesday, November 1

- He said that law is to restore peace and orderliness to the state

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has said declared that nobody would be spared in the enforcement of anti-grazing law in the state.

The grazing law took effect from Wednesday, November 1 some months after the governor assented to it. gathered that Ortom recently called on writers to partner with his government on advocacy for ranches.

He said: “I want it to go to all the nooks and crannies of this country because the menace of herdsmen attack is not just on Benue people but it is on other Nigerians as well. We decided to champion the cause of restoring peace, orderliness and security for our own state and I appreciate the fact that other states are already keying into this programme.

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“That is a global best practice for cattle farming or livestock farming and by the way, livestock or a cattle farming is a business. You do it to get income to sustain yourself just like we here are farmers and we farm to sustain ourselves; so it should not be done at the detriment of other people.

“While we are living, we should also respect the rights of other people to live. It should not be at the expense of others and so I would want this thing to go beyond Benue State because when it happens to another state I won’t be a happy man.

“ I know what we suffered between 2012 and 2016. We have estimated that we lost more than N95billion worth of goods and property, excluding human beings that died. If you go to the rural areas you’ll see schools, churches, hospitals, houses, farmlands and all that destroyed. For me, in 2013, I lost my rice farm and farm implements.

“My ancestral home was razed down. My entire village was razed down. More than 50 people were killed in one day. So, this is a very big challenge. For us to have arrived at sending an executive bill to the House of Assembly, we fasted and prayed and God gave us that wisdom to have a permanent solution to this problem.

“Go to America, go to Europe, go to Asia and even on African soil, Kenya, Tanzania are doing it; ranching. Small countries like Swaziland, I was there four years ago and their major earning is beef but they ranch, so why can’t we ranch in Nigeria?

“Where is the land with the upsurge of population? In the fifties when people argued that they had cattle routes and grazing areas, I ask them what was the total population of Nigeria; less than 40 million people. Today in 2017, I can approximate it to be over 200 million because the projection in 2012 was 170 million so by today we should be over 200 million.

“But what is the land mass? What was it in 1950, 923, 000 square kilometres. Today it is the same 923, 000 square kilometres but even less because of the ceding of Bakassi to the Cameroon, so we have less land mass than what used to obtain when we were less in population than now.

“So, it’s unfortunate that we have kept sealed lips and honestly I feel so sad but I will continue to do what is right, as far as I know, as a person. Even if I die today, I know I have done the right thing. I am championing the cause of ensuring that we have ranching, which is the global best practice and is the only solution.

“I have challenged herdsmen, I have challenged any one, including Miyetti Allah that I am calling for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Ho*re that took us to court for a law that we legitimately passed and is threatening to invade our state; a law that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria permits us to put in place; a law that seeks to protect lives and property; a law that seeks to bring peace to our people, then you take us to court.

“I have said that the security agencies should arrest them for threatening me and my state that they would make the law not to function. I am waiting to see who will trespass. I am waiting to see who will not respect that law and is in Benue state. I have said it; I am not forcing anyone to live in Benue State. If you want to do open grazing, you can go to any other state that land is available.

“For me here, we are farmers and we cannot pay salaries as at when due as at today; so we want to have food on the table for everyone and we have massively encouraged our people to go into agriculture and they have done that.

“There is no single hectare of land available for grazing in Benue State. If you want to stay in Benue State, we are not sending you away; you can stay but if you have cattle, you must ranch them. If don’t ranch, the law will catch up with you and you will be sent to jail.

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“There is no two ways about it. And we are not just talking about cattle; we are talking about livestock; so pigs, goats and all of them are all involved.

"So, I want as many Nigerians that can support us in advocacy and let people understand because the misconception is that the law is targeting individuals or Fulani men or certain ethnic groups and so on; it’s not right.

Meanwhile, had previously reported that Samuel Ortom, the Benue state governor, on Wednesday, November 1, announced prohibition of open grazing in the state.

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