Group protests, accuses Benue House of delaying anti-grazing bill
Suspicious of deliberate delay, the Movement Against Fulani Occupation (MAFO) in Benue State has condemned the lackadaisical manner the Benue State House is handling the bill against open grazing of herdsmen in the State.
Members of the group numbering over hundred staged a peaceful protest to the House of Assembly complex demanding speedy passage of the bill .
But, fierce looking security agents including police personnel and officers of the Department of State Security (DSS) thronged the Cool off Park located at the low level area of Makurdi, the State capital, where the protesters had convened to avert any chaos.
At the Assembly complex, adequate security was also provided at the entrance as the security officers blocked the entrance.
The situation almost went awry when members of MAFO were denied access into the Assembly complex. The security men engaged them in a scuffle just as they adamantly demanded for the Speaker to address them inside the complex.
After a long period of argument and squabbles with the security operatives, the Speaker and some members of the House came out to address the protesters.
Leaders of the movement including Pastor Dave Ogbole, Pastor Edward Doga and Barr. Terence Vembe who represents them at the ECOWAS Court, decried the slowness by the House in passing the bill, recalling that the Speaker had pledged to pass the bill before the end of 2016 but it has turned out to be a ruse.
An elder and adviser of the movement Mr. Nathaniel Apir frowned at the large deployment of policemen by the Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, accusing him of playing politics with the issue.
“We went to the Commissioner to seek security permission to hold our protest and he dismissed the issue with a wave of the hand. Hon speaker you have let us down. We should be protected by the House and not humiliated. We have respect for rule of law. If this number of policemen had been deployed during the Fulani invasion of the State, then our people would not have been killed in large numbers. The commissioner of Police, is compromising by using maximum force against us”, he lamented.
Responding, the Speaker, Terkimbir Ikyange who acknowledged the concerted efforts made by MAFO against open grazing of cows in the State, said the House is determined to pass the bill, informing that the bill has to go through stages up to public hearing before it is eventually passed.