After several attacks in which many lives and property were lost in Benue, Fulani herdsmen have finally agreed to obey the Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law but with conditions.
Leader of the NEC Subcommittee on farmers and herdsmen skirmishes and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi who disclosed this in Makurdi yesterday after an exhaustive meeting with all parties in Benue and Nasarawa states said that the herdsmen had asked for more time to enable them key into the implementation of the law and that the Federal Government should see animal husbandry as part of its agricultural programme.
Umahi who read the position of the committee to newsmen, disclosed that all parties to the crises are committed to ceasefire even as he noted that the problem of invasion by undocumented herdsmen from other parts of West Africa was extensively discussed.
He said the committee has also restated its commitment to pursue peace, ensure disarmament of any militia groups as well as the arrest of any group harboring militia and support security agencies to ensure the arrest of anyone in possession of arms.
Umahi who noted that there are about two million hectares of land in 13 states of the northern region for grazing reserve out of which one million hectares have been gazetted and developed, urged the herdsmen to make use of the already gazetted and developed grazing reserves while states that have anti open-grazing law in place are also free to operate their laws.
The team also visited both Benue and Nasarawa states on a fact-finding mission where they found 117,000 people in seven internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Benue and 25,000 IDPs in Nasarawa out of which 20,000 are Tiv people who are indigene of Nasarawa State.
He requested the Federal Government to immediately send the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to Benue and Nasarawa to evaluate the problems in the camps to see how the IDPs can be assisted.
Umahi who described the condition of the IDP camps as very pathetic observed that in all the camps across the two states, children between ages four and eight years constitute over 80percent of the IDPs.
Umahi who said the claims that Benue belonged to Fulani by conquest was never made but was carried by social media, posited that, “In our own conviction, we believe that Benue has the right to make laws and whoever stays in Benue has the duty to obey the law and the responsibility to dialogue with the state if they feel the law will not favour them.”
Meanwhile, Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura has disclosed that his administration will not enact anti-open grazing law in the state, adding that Nigeria belongs to everybody.