….says no amount of sponsored propaganda will compel repeal of Benue grazing law
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom has lashed out at the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Usman Ngelzarma describing him as a merchant of crisis saying no amount of sponsored propaganda will compel the state to repeal its grazing law.
The Governor regretted that the willful ignorance and misinterpretation of the law by the MACBAN leader have fueled bitter emotions and hatred among pastoralists to embark on a killing spree of farmers in Benue State and other parts of the country.
The Governor in a statement weekend in Makurdi by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase was reacting to Alhaji Ngelzarma’s recent Channels Television interview wherein among others he described as a failure, the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of Benue State.
Part of the statement read, “Ngelzarma’s comments did not come to us as a surprise. He is indeed one of those whose willful ignorance and misinterpretation of the law have fueled bitter emotions and hatred among pastoralists to embark on a killing spree of farmers in Benue State and other parts of the country.
“The MACBAN National Secretary is not new to contradictory statements. It is on record that he and other officials of the group visited Benue State in 2017 and after a meeting with Governor Samuel Ortom, addressed the media where they pledged support for the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law.
“On that occasion, Ngelzarma who spoke on behalf of the delegation admitted that with their deeper knowledge of the law during their visit to Benue, it was now obvious to MACBAN that the legislation was indeed not targeted at Fulani or any other group. Their only appeal was for an extension of the November 2017 deadline given for the commencement of implementation and enforcement of the law.
“That the Miyetti Allah mouthpiece now goes to national television to kick against the same law they once described as ‘a win-win for all’ only proves that he is a merchant of crisis and one of those bent on truncating the peacebuilding process in Benue and other states of the federation.
“Miyetti Allah’s anger towards Governor Samuel Ortom is well understood. We expected the MACBAN National Secretary and his group to feel frustrated after the Governor refused to accept their offer to betray his people and repeal the law in order to attract personal favours from their sponsors.
“Miyetti Allah ought to know that Benue’s law on open grazing has recorded tremendous success since it was enacted. Many people who own livestock in the state have ranched their animals, while over 400 lawbreakers have been arrested with some already tried by competent courts and convicted.
“The utterances of Miyetti Allah confirm what Governor Ortom has been saying all along that they are responsible for the killing of Benue people. Miyetti Allah is sacred cows who are not only untouchable but who also enjoy the protection and patronage of their sponsors; otherwise, they should have since been proscribed and their members put behind bars.
“Miyetti Allah groups have not hidden their evil agenda. They threaten farming communities and carry out such threats leaving hundreds dead, yet, they have the audacity to go to television studios and heap insults on victims of their carnage.
“The question Ngelzarma and others who blame herdsmen’s attacks and killings in Benue on the law fail to answer is; what is responsible for similar killings in states which have no laws on open grazing such as Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Plateau?
“Lastly, we must make it clear to Miyetti Allah groups and others who want Benue to repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law to stop daydreaming. The law has come to stay, and no amount of sponsored propaganda can compel the State Government to repeal it.”