A non- profit organization, the Greater Restoration Initiative (GRI), has condemned what it called the land grab initiative by the federal government in the name of building Ruga or Fulani settler communities in all the 36 states of Nigeria and the FCT with tax payers money.
The group wondered why the pilot phase which would be implemented in 12 states has “surreptitiously” commenced without consultation with the states or local communities concerned.
“We note the latent deceit laced in the policy, which is why the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development refused to brief the country before it commenced implementation of the so-called National Lifestock Transformation Plan being supervised by the Office of the Vice President.
“We note the Vice President’s disclaimer on the Ruga initiative. He however wasn’t enough to explain who is supervising it and why?” GRI said in a statement in Abuja signed by its leader, Mr James Mozeh.
The Ruga policy, it noted was criminal as it violated the Land Use Act which spelt out unambiguously where the control of land resource is vested. It also violates the foundamental human rights of the locals who traditionally own those lands, as the state governments only hold the land in trust for them as per the Land Use Act. It’s disheartening that the Vice President, Prof.
“It’s also becoming increasingly worrisome that President Buhari who prides himself as Mr. intergrity will supervise and endorse illegality just because his kinsmen are the beneficiaries. Indeed posterity has an unkind place for nepotic and ethnic irredentist leaders.
“It is disheartening that in excess 500,000 Benue citizens and millions across the country, are displaced and living in unhabitable temporal shelters without any significant support from the federal government. Rather than resettle them, the president is more concerned about building homes for his kinsmen across the country.
According to the group, the law – abiding sedentary farmers had suffered several attacks from Fulani herders who now occupy some of their ancestral lands.
GRI also recall that during the Vice President’s visit to Benue state at the wake of sustained Fulani herdsmen attacks on Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Kogi states villages, he promised the FG will provide N10bn in support to the affected communities to enable them rebuild their communities and return to their lives. Till date, nothing has been done about it and the federal government hasn’t helped any community rebuild. Yet the FG has set aside over N2.26 billion in tax payers money to forcefully build settlements for Fulani herders.
“We at GRI completely oppose the Ruga policy, we oppose the cattle colony, grazing route or grazing reserve initiatives. They are not only archaic but will further deepen the crisis that has already claimed thousands of lives across the country. Should the government forcefully choose to implement this anti-native settlers policies, the president should know he will be held responsible for any unrest associated with it,” the statement said.