Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom has explained why the State House of Assembly passed the anti-open grazing bill.
The bill passed Thursday by the assembly seeks to prohibit Open Rearing and Grazing of Livestock in the state.
Apart from providing for the establishment of Ranches and Livestock administration, regulation and control, the bill also provides that anybody who engage in Cattle Rustling shall be liable on conviction for imprisonment for a term of not less than three years or N100,000 per animal or both.
The governor who promised to sign the bill into law on time said it was to prevent the victims of the incessant attacks by herdsmen from taking the law into their hands by retaliating and which might lead to untoward consequences.
He spoke yesterday in Makurdi when he received the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle who led a delegation including CAN executives to distribute relief materials worth N7m to the victims of the herdsmen.
“What you see in that bill is a decision of not the Governor, or the Speaker or members of the Benue State House of Assembly, but the decision of Benue State because the bill was subjected to public hearing and the people were unanimous.
“Benue State has 23 local governments. But 12 local governments have been under siege by the Fulani herdsmen. Benue state was completely under siege for two years. It is not a crime that God gave us a green land and as we are known as the food basket of the nation, we are not going to farm in the air or on the sea, or any other place, it is on land.
There is no way we can compete with grazing. It is impossible for grazing to go along side with farming. And for several years we have pleaded either the herdsmen but they continued the killings.
“Even before I became governor, the lasting solution to the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen clashes is ranching, as being done in many parts of the world and African countries including Swaziland which despite its small size have the export of beef as its economic mainstay,” Ortom said.