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Your visa policy for foreign herdsmen destroying Nigeria, CAN tells Buhari

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• Accuses President of favouring Fulani, neglecting others
• Lauds northern govs’ decision on ranching

President Muhammadu Buhari has been advised to urgently stop his policy of ‘visa on arrival’ for foreign herdsmen to enable Nigerian security agencies check influx of militiamen and other criminals in the move to tackle insecurity.

Benue State chapter of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) which gave the advice, yesterday, at a press conference in Makurdi, said it was convinced that President Buhari is aware of what the open visa policy has cost Nigeria in terms of worsening security situation.

Chairman of Benue CAN, Rev. Akpen Leva, said: “President Buhari must act fast to avoid the seeming hand of disintegration on our country which is staring Nigerians in the faces. We believe that President Buhari will listen and, in the interest of the nation, act fast to maintain corporate existence of the country.

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“Nigerians are not interested in watching the unity of the country being toyed with. It is our belief that policies of the Federal Government should not go contrary to the provisions of the constitution. Those that disobey the laws of the land are dealt with in line with the constitution. Even at the international level, citizens of other countries do not disrespect the laws of their host country.

“This explains why we find it difficult to understand the rationale behind President’s policy of open visa or ‘visa on arrival’ policy. Fulani herdsmen from countries like Chad, Mali, Niger, Cameroun and Burkina Faso, among others, have continued to troop into Nigeria. These are the herdsmen that are carrying highly sophisticated weapons and are killing Nigerians on their ancestral lands. We are aware that the Nigerian Fulani were not known for violence, but they were known for carrying sticks in their business of rearing animals.”

CAN, which described Nigerians as patriotic citizens of their country, said the citizens were getting increasingly worried that their unity is being eroded by inaction of President Buhari and his anti-people policies.

Leva said it was worrisome the decision by the Presidency to act sharply on issues that affect a particular race and exhibit inaction on issues that affect other Nigerians.

“Nigeria has come to a level where anything that affects the Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, the Presidency reacts with immediate alacrity, but when other Nigerians are crying, it does not worry the presidency.

“We urge President Buhari to urgently desist from that habit. His open support for a particular tribe should not have constituted any problem to Nigerians. However, our worry is the presidency’s open confrontation and adamant posture on issues that affect other tribes, which amount to total negligence of other citizens of the country.

“The continued attack on Nigerian communities by Fulani herdsmen calls for urgent attention by the Federal Government. President Buhari should act fast to save the country. It is partly to ensure harmonious relationship that necessitated some states to ban open grazing which has always been the reason for herdsmen to attack Nigerian farmers. Those states that banned open grazing supported ranching, which is the global best practice in animal husbandry as solution.

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“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government to act fast by enforcing the anti-open grazing law. This will compel all those involved in animal husbandry to ranch their cattle. Ranching, as observed, is the only solution to the incessant crisis involving farmers and herdsmen in the country.”

The Benue CAN, while commiserating with Nigerians whose relations have been killed by the herdsmen, noted that a lot of people have been abducted and are still in the hands of their abductors.

“Barely 48 hours ago, about 27 students, three staff and 12 family members from Government Science College, Kagara in Niger State were abducted by gunmen. One of the students has reportedly been killed. This is unimaginable. What is happening does not speak well of our great country and this is why we again call on Mr. president to take steps capable of eradicating all criminal elements in the society.”

According to Leva, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has been vindicated by the decision of Northern Governors Forum, which called on those involved in animal husbandry to embrace ranching as the best global practice. “This will even enable the cattle to produce better beef and milk for consumption.”

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