Leaders from Benue state have rejected the creation of cattle colonies during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday January 15.
The leaders held a closed door meeting at the State House, Presidential Villa, Abuja to discuss the security issues in the state.
The report garthered from the meeting showed that the Benue leaders told the president that there is no land to allow for the establishment of cattle colonies as being proposed by the minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh.
Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, who led the delegation and addressed the press after the meeting, said Audu Ogbe, the minister of Agriculture “who is a son of the soil has explained that cattle colonies are a combination of several ranches” and is proposing that ten thousand hectares should be provided for that purpose.
“In Benue, we don’t have ten hectares for colonies, other states may have, but we don’t have in Benue state,” the governor said. Former senate president, David Mark; former governor, George Akume were among the leaders who visited the president.
The governor insisted on the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore for the alleged inciting statement which caused the massacre of innocent residents of Guma and Logo local governments of Benue State.
“When people violate the law and they are not sanctioned it becomes a problem. These people should be arrested and investigated because there is enough evidence against them.”
The governor said Benue State was part of President Buhari’s constituency, therefore the residents also deserved government’s protection.
“We don’t have powers over the security of this country, except the Federal Government. It is expected that the Federal Government will support us to enforce our laws and the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Ortom, who noted that “even before the anti-grazing law, killings were taking place more than what we are witnessing today” said the state government had found a solution in the new law to protect all.
“We are not sending anyone away from Benue State. The herdsmen, whether you are Igbo, Fulani, Hausa, Idoma or Tiv, you are free. Just follow the law, obtain permit and then do the ranch and you are protected,” he said.
The governor denied allegations that the state was arming militia groups, describing the development as a distraction from the main issues.
He said that as far back as 2015 when he took over as governor, he organised an amnesty programme which achieved the disarmament of over 800 youths.
At the meeting, President Buhari appealed to the government and people of Benue to exercise restraint, assuring that all the perpetrators of violence in the state would be made to face the wrath of the law.
He commiserated with the victims of the attacks and promised that the government would ameliorate their suffering. He said relevant agencies had been directed to cater for their needs.