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Benue, groups, others fault minister’s call for halt to anti-grazing laws in states

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Minister of Defence, Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan Ali. PHOTO: NAN

The Benue State government has faulted the call by the Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan Ali, asking for the suspension of anti-open grazing laws in states.

The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Lawrence Onoja Jnr, told reporters yesterday in Makurdi that herdsmen invaded Tse Zongu settlement in Mbagwen Ward on Wednesday night, killing nine persons, including two students, who were at the village to write the ongoing National Examination Council (NECO) test.

His words: “From the timing of the killings, these militia herdsmen must have been encouraged by the unfortunate statement of the defence minister who had just two days ago, suggested the suspension of the anti-open grazing law.

“The Chairman of Guma Local Government, Anthony Shawon, who immediately briefed Governor Samuel Ortom and reported the incidents to security agencies, revealed that the armed herdsmen invaded Tse Ishav in Saghev Ward where they brutally killed eight mourners at a (Christian) wake while inflicting serious injuries on many others. This is after these murderers killed two other people at Mbawa Council Ward two days earlier.”

Also yesterday, groups, individuals and organisations viewed the minister’s call as an invitation to anarchy.

The Mzough U Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi Nyi’ Igede, led by Chief Edward Ujege, in a statement in Makurdi, argued that Dan Ali’s remarks showed that ‘he does not understand and or is not familiar with the letters and spirit of the Nigeria’s constitution he swore to uphold.”

They noted that neither the National Security Council, Federal Executive Council nor the President has the constitutional powers to abolish any law enacted by the National assembly or state assemblies.

According to them, the utterance had emboldened the killer herdsmen to keep decimating communities and people.

The President General of Tiv Youths Organisation, (TYO), Comrade Timothy Hembaor, said the Minister’s action was a direct assault on federalism and the constitution.

In a statement, he maintained that the comment had finally exposed the President Muhammadu Buhari administration as the hydra-headed monster that was out to destroy the nation’s unity and democracy.

The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) backed the resolution of the National Assembly directing the minister to withdraw the statement immediately.

Its Secretary General, Alfred Kemepado, in a statement in Yenagoa, commended the ‘courage’ of both legislative houses on the issue, insisting that state governments have the right to make laws for good governance.

The Senate, House of Representatives, Taraba, Ekiti and Benue state governments had recently berated the minister for his remark, describing it as illegal.

Currently, the anti-open grazing laws are operational in Benue, Ekiti and Taraba states with Abia about passing its own version of the legislation meant to regulate the movement of herdsmen and their cows.


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