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Benue raises sensitisation panel on anti-open grazing law



• Pleads with workers to shelve planned strike
Governor Samuel Ortom has constituted a committee to sensitise herdsmen and farmers on the open grazing prohibition law billed for implementation in Benue State this November.

Consisted of his aides on security, herdsmen, representatives of relevant security agencies as well as traditional rulers and the principal actors, the panel, is also to identify cattle rustlers and urge the locals to fish out foreigners who come to foment trouble in the state.

The governor, who announced the composition yesterday during a security meeting with relevant stakeholders in Makurdi, said the legislation was not meant to witch-hunt anybody but to put a stop to the perennial crisis between herdsmen and farmers in the state.

The Tor Tiv, Orchivirigh, Professor James Ayatse, stated that the law has come to stay, urging the concerned parties to live in peace and harmony.

Represented by the Tor Kwande, Chief Ambrose Iortyer, he stressed the need for traditional rulers to play an active role in the sensitisation exercise to make the implementation of the law easier.

The national coordinator, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Galus Gololo, acknowledged the governor’s efforts at stemming the urge incidents of the past. He dissociated the association from the suit filed at an Abuja High Court by one Kauta Haure, a Federal Capital Territory (FCT)-based lawyer, against the piece of legislation.

Meanwhile, Ortom yesterday appealed to workers in the state not to embark on their proposed strike action, saying his administration was working round the clock to offset their salary arrears.

The governor made the appeal while addressing newsmen after a meeting with labour leaders at the Government House, Makurdi.

The Guardian recalled that the state chapter of Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) gave a one-year ultimatum on August 4, 2016 to the government defray the six-month backlog of its members or face an industrial action.

Labour, in the communiqué, said: “SEC in session exhaustively deliberated on the issue regarding members’ welfare, most especially the non-payment of the salary arrears, pensions and gratuity as well as the prompt payment of same by the Benue State government.

“This situation has visited untold hardship on our members, leading to inability of workers and pensioners, to meet their obligations like food, payment of children’s school fees, settlement of medical bills and even death of some members.

“That the state government, conclude all the ongoing screening exercise on or before 31st August 31, 2017 and clear all arrears.”

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