No land for cattle colony in Benue – Gov. Ortom

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Gov. Samuel Ortom

…As Buhari calls for restraint over Benue Killings, assures perpetrators will be apprehended***

Benue State will not part with any portion of its land for the establishment of cattle colony as being canvassed for by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Benue State Gov. Samuel Ortom stated this on Monday, while addressing State House correspondents after he led a delegation of Benue stakeholders to a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He stated that even though the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, had explained to him the meaning of cattle colony and its relevance in addressing security challenges occasioned by farmers/herdsmen conflicts, cattle ranching remained the only way out of the crisis.

“The Minister of Agriculture happens to be a son of the soil; there are many options that are put on the table. Like I told you the last time I came here I did not understand what colony was.

“Today I was privileged to sit with him and he did explain to me that a colony is about many ranches restricted in one place where the land is.

“So for us in Benue there is no 10 hectares, they are looking for 5,000 hectares. For us in Benue State we have no 10 hectares to allow that kind of thing to take place.

“So people are free. Other states have the land, we in Benue State do not have and that was what led to us enacting this law.’’

The governor dismissed the insinuation that the state government had engaged the services of militias to safeguard lives and property in the state, saying the allegation was a mere attempt to divert attention and turn facts away from realities on ground.

According to him, the militias arrested by soldiers in some parts of Taraba State have no connection whatsoever with Benue State government.

He, however, disclosed that the state government was in the process of employing volunteers to serve as members of the state’s vigilante group to ensure smooth implementation of the anti-grazing law.

On the meeting between President Buhari and leadership of the state, Ortom described the outcome of the meeting as fruitful, saying the president had reiterated the determination of his administration to safeguard lives and property of all citizens across the country.

The meeting was an aftermath of the recent violent attacks on communities in Benue by gunmen.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday called on the government and people of Benue to exercise restraint following the recent attacks on some communities in the state.

The President made the call when he received a delegation of political leaders, traditional rulers and elders of the state led by Gov. Samuel Ortom at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He assured that all the perpetrators of violence in the state would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

Buhari emphasized that all those involved in the conflict that culminated in loss of lives would not escape justice, including any illegally armed militia in the state.

“Your Excellency, the governor, and all the leaders here, I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people. I assure you that the Police, the Department of State Security and other security agencies had been directed to ensure that all those behind the mayhem get punished.

“I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your country men. You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation,’’ he said.

Buhari commiserated with all the victims of the attacks, and the families who lost loved ones and properties, noting that the government would make efforts to ameliorate the situation of all the victims.

According to him, all relevant agencies had been directed to start catering for the humanitarian needs of victims of the crisis.

The President told the delegation that his administration had already begun a process of finding lasting solution to the perennial challenge of herdsmen conflict with farmers and communities around the country.

Buhari said the Inspector General of Police had been directed to relocate to the state to provide security for lives and properties.

He, therefore, urged all Benue indigenes to trust the security agencies and report all suspicious cases of movements in the state.

In his remarks, Ortom expressed the hope that the tension would be reduced with the Federal Government’s intervention to find a lasting solution to the herdsmen attacks.

“We will leave here to rebuild confidence in our people.’’

The Tor-Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, said his entire domain had been thrown into mourning due to the incessant attacks.

“We want you to put an end to the gruesome situation,’’ he added.

Present at the meeting were Benue State Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, former Senate President, David Mark, former Benue State Governor, Sen. George Akume and Sen. Barnabas Gemade.

Others include Sen. JK Waku, Gen. Lawrence Onoja (rtd), Brig. Gen. John Atom Kpera (rtd), former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa and the Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly, Terkimbir Kyambe.

Members of the National and State Assembly from the State were also at the meeting.