Lalong apologises over alleged opposition to Benue’s grazing law
• Says he was misquoted, sues for peace
• NGO tasks FG on acceptable livestock policy
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has apologised to his Benue counterpart, Samuel Ortom, over comments attributed to him where he allegedly criticised the anti-open grazing law in the neighbouring state.
Addressing newsmen at the weekend in Abuja, Lalong said he was misquoted by the media. He noted that he was holding the briefing because the purported criticism was festering the crisis at hand.
He pleaded: “I apologise to my brother, Governor Samuel Ortom. I will not want to say Plateau is fighting Benue. We are one. All of us need to join hands to promote peace and share in the pains of the people that lost their loved ones to the attacks.”
Lalong was last Thursday reported to have warned his colleague against implementing the law which took effect on November 1, 2017.After meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Plateau governor was quoted to have said that it was wrong to commence implementation of the legislation in the absence feasible alternatives.
He was quoted thus: “To be honest with you, I advised him. I told the governor of Benue State when he was doing the law. I asked him to tread softly and take other steps before implementation.
“But you see, states are different. His own concepts are different and for us on the Plateau, it is different.”But while hosting a delegation of the Arewa Consultative Forum last Friday in Makurdi, Ortom said he was pained by the comments and consequently called Lalong who denied the remarks.
“But later, when I watched it on Channels Television, he castigated me beyond what I thought a colleague of mine should, (but) I have forgiven him.”
Ortom said although he had a discussion with Lalong, he never received any warning from him. He, however, explained that even if he was warned as claimed, the decision to implement the law was taken by the people of Benue after consultations.
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) called on the Federal Government to implement a livestock development policy that aligns with regional and international practices as part of measures to check the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
Its Director, Nnimmo Bassey, said: “The Federal Government should create a Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries as obtained in several other African countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Tanzania.”In a statement in Calabar, Cross River State, Bassey said the government should initiate actions to produce a detailed land use and environmental plan for the country.He noted that there was need for public-private partnership and scientific re-orientation for the development of pastoralism in the country.
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