THE BENUE STATE PROHIBITION OF OPEN REARING AND GRAZING OF LIVESTOCK LAW 2017 AND THE THREAT FROM WITHOUT - IGBA OGBOLE - Snazzy.com.ng

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THE BENUE STATE PROHIBITION OF OPEN REARING AND GRAZING OF LIVESTOCK LAW 2017 AND THE THREAT FROM WITHOUT - IGBA OGBOLE

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The Benue State Law Prohibiting Open Rearing and Grazing of Livestock
unarguably marks a watershed in the historic struggle to halt the age
long crises between Farmers and Fulani Herdsmen over land.

There has been an unending struggle by Farmers to protect their
farmland and crops from being forcefully taken over or destroyed by
cattle in the name of grazing.

On the other hand, the Pastoralists have overtime suggestively claimed
the right of access to any land, especially in the lush green
vegetation, whether farm land or not, to graze their animals without
recourse to the permission or opinion of the land or crop owners.

While the Herdsmen seek protection under the constitutional provision
of citizens' right to free movement and settlement in any part of the
country, the Farmers are quick to point out that the same constitution
criminalises trespass and encroachment on other people's property
including land.

The result is the incessant avoidable crises between Herdsmen and
Farmers and the oftentimes unwarranted attacks on hapless farming
communities by Herdsmen.

The cries and moanings over the killing of defenceless farmers, women
and children as well as the destruction of crops and other valuable
property, daily reverberate across the Nation.

The crisis is worse in Benue State where the last ten years have
witnessed sustained ferocious attacks on farming communities by
marauding herdsmen who move about with sophisticated weapons
unchallenged.

It is on record that heavy death tolls have been witnessed in these
attacks while property worth billions of naira have been destroyed
across the State.

From Agatu to Gwer West, Gwer East to Makurdi, Guma to Buruku, Logo to
Ukum, Tarka to Gboko, Katsina-Ala to Kwande, the blood of the innocent
have been spewed and the landscape has been a picture of blood, tears
and sorrow.

In the process, wives have been turned into widows, children into
orphans, while farming activities have been severally halted
completely or disrupted, across the State.

Efforts by past administrations and well-meaning stakeholders to find
lasting solution to the seemingly intractable problem over the years
have not achieved the desired objective.

This is why when Governor Samuel Ortom, on assumption of office, began
to champion the campaign for ranching of cattle and all other
livestock, instead of open-grazing, he had the support of majority of
Benue citizens most of who are directly or indirectly victims of the
unwarranted attacks on communities of the State by Herdsmen.

The consensus is that once cattle are ranched, as is the practice in
the other countries of the world, farmlands will no longer be
encroached upon and crops no longer destroyed.

And it follows naturally that once there is no encroachment on
farmlands and destruction of crops, there will no longer be crisis and
people no longer have to be attacked and killed by the Herdsmen.

This is simply what the Prohibition of Open Rearing and Grazing of
Livestock Law 2017 is all about: providing the legal framework for
people, especially Herdsmen and Farmers to live in peace.

The process leading to the signing into law of the Prohibition of Open
Rearing and Grazing of Livestock Law 2017 by Governor Ortom, beginning
from the submission of the Executive Bill to the State Assembly, the
public hearings, and its passage by the Legislature, followed due
constitutional process and enjoyed the full support of Benue people.

This Law is one achievement of the Ortom Administration that has been
commended and received with wide jubilation by well-meaning Benue
sons, daughters and residents irrespective of tribal, religious and
political differences.

The Law provides that it is an offence for livestock to stray into
another person's land and that there should be no open grazing, no
movement of livestock on foot within and across the state, no
livestock owner should carry firearms, no person should grab land for
the purpose of grazing, no person should rustle cattle or any animal,
among others.

Appropriate sanctions are provided for these offences in the Law which
clearly provides for and protects the interests of Farmers and Rearers
of all forms of livestock including cattle.

Therefore, only those who may perhaps have been benefitting from the
crises in the past are, or can be against the Law which has put paid
to such benefits from the blood and toil of Benue people.

It is only in this light that we can attempt a comprehension of the
recent outburst and threats by the Cattle Breeders Association under
the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Kautal Hore over the Law which has
criminalized the penchant of some of their members to play God over
people's lives and property.

The outburst of the Group and its threats to fight the Law should
worry all well-meaning Nigerians because the posture is not only
provocative but offensive to the spirit and letter of the Constitution
of Nigeria which empowers State Houses of Assembly to make laws for
the well-being of their people as long as such Laws are not in
conflict with the provisions of the Constitution.

Kautal Hore's claim that Fulani herdsmen were the first to occupy the
Benue Valley is not only erroneous and fallacious but also a brazen
attempt to re-write history in their favour!

The prompt reactions of the State Government, Benue State House of
Assembly, Mzough-u-Tiv, VATIM, MAFO and other stakeholders condemning
the threats by the Cattle Breeders Association are encouraging but
must be sustained and stepped up beyond the shores of the State and
Country for the world to be a witness to the gradual manifestation of
the grand conspiracy to conquer the Benue Valley particularly Benue
State.

Benue indigenes must remain one on this issue because the threat by
the Herdsmen organization is a direct challenge to their existence and
they must use all legal and diplomatic means to neutralize this threat
and others that are likely to come.

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