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How Benue became war theatre over open grazing law, by Ortom

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Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has lamented how the state became a near theatre of war following the passage of its open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment bill 2017.

He stated this yesterday while delivering the Professor Miriam Ikejiani-Clark lecture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), saying the Federal Government deployed all its might in an attempt to strangulate him.

Ortom maintained that in the government at the centre did everything possible to truncate the law and ensure the continued destruction of farmlands, occupation and killings of Benue people by armed herdsmen.

He disclosed that in the bid actualize the strangulation of Benue people, herdsmen who operated under the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, killed over 73 persons in one day, including Catholic priests.

He added that the herdsmen had earlier warned him to rescind the law, adding that homes and businesses were not spared.

Speaking on The Challenges of Mitigating Herdsmen Attacks on People of Nigeria: Lessons From Benue State, he stated that the country was doomed if ranching was not embraced as a solution to herders and farmers conflicts the same way June12 was recently recognised as democracy day.

“Those who think that the problem of herdsmen is only that of Benue valley and Middle Belt states should watch out. It was first with Plataeu State and southern Kaduna and then Taraba, Adamawa, Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Delta, Cross River, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Enugu, Zamfara, Katsina, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo and other states.

“It is spreading and soon it will become an obvious national social and economic problem too difficult to contain,” he said.

Ortom insisted that the kind federalism being practiced in Nigeria, which gave rise to the near pogrom in the state was checkmated; the country would remain dominated and underdeveloped.

Narrating his experiences since the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law was passed in Benue, the governor stated that it had exposed him and the state to many challenges and frosty relations with the Federal Government, especially the police.

Speaking, President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo, who was Chairman of the occasion, decried the continued retention of service chiefs in office after retirement, saying it was alien to the nation’s laws.

He said the only factor that could have prompted it was because they “came from a particular section of the country”.

Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Chukwuma Ozumba, who was represented by Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), Professor James Ogbonna, said the lecture was instituted to honour Ikejiani-Clark whose death remained a shock to the university community.


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