The federal government has given explanations for the establishment of cattle colonies as against the nomadic structure currently going on.
The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the establishment of the colonies and the land clearing programmes are geared toward increasing milk production and improving the quality of beef.
The minister made the clarifications yesterday when he received a delegation from the Kogi State government, led by governor Yahaya Bello, in Abuja
Ogbeh said: “The establishment of colonies and the land clearing programmes are aimed at increasing milk production by the cattle as well as the improvement in the quality of beef for consumption.
He stated that these programmes were not an attempt to seize people’s lands and hand them over to herdsmen.
“We have to free our country from unnecessary crisis and poverty,” he said.
The minister also promised to offer support to the Kogi State government on its agricultural intervention programmes through the supply of agricultural equipment such as rice harvesters, millers, threshers and tractors.
In a statement to LEADERSHIP Friday signed by Osagie Jacobs Julie for the director of information, the minister commended Kogi State for buying into the agricultural programmes of land clearing, rice revolution and the establishment of cattle colonies being propagated by the federal government.
Earlier, governor Yahaya Bello had commended the efforts of the minister in championing agricultural revolution in the country.
While calling for the support of the federal government, he said the state aspired to be a model for other states and change the face of Kogi from a civil service state to a productive agrarian state, which will, in the long run, generate employment for its teeming youth.
The minister, along with the permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr Bukar Hassan, received the delegation while the governor was accompanied on the visit by the commissioner for Agriculture, Hon Toba Kehinde, and the special adviser on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ahmed Okara Abdulrameen.
I Warned Ortom Against Anti-grazing Law – Lalong
Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, has said he advised his Benue counterpart, Samuel Ortom, against implementing the anti- grazing law in his state.
Speaking to State House correspondents yesterday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Lalong explained how he resolved farmers/herders’ clashes in his state .
He explained that Plateau State was one of the early states to embrace ranching, which he said, was initially resisted but that after much enlightenment, it was embraced by the citizens.
The governor said he sent a 12-man team to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, last year, headed by former Vice Chancellor, University of Jos, Professor Onazi, to learn the concept of ranching and what it entailed.
He further stated it took the state government three months to sensitise the people on ranching after which they were left with no choice but to embrace it.
“Ranching, as a concept, is a policy and there are states realising the importance of the policy. I cannot just wake up – like some people said last year that I should go and do Anti-grazing Law.
“And I asked: ‘Anti-grazing law for what?’ We are talking about ranching; we are talking about development of livestock business and I cannot use the word ‘anti-‘ to start driving people who are interested. It is for those who are interested to come and get involved in it.
“Secondly, I can’t implement Anti-grazing Law. There are levels of implementation which will require government intervention, provision of ranchers and, thirdly, when you are talking of ranching, it is a component of agriculture business you will also require subsidy.
“Subsidy must come from federal and state governments, and by the time we develop it and put every structure on ground, then we can bring laws to regulate the implementation. So I don’t want to jump one step before the other,” he said.
On why did not advise Governor Ortom on the strategy he applied, he said: “To be honest with you I did. I told the governor of Benue when he was doing the law, I said, ‘look, why don’t you tread softly; just be careful; take other steps before you start implementation. But you see, states are different; his own concepts are different and for us on the Plateau it is different.
“I said I will not do the law before implementation. I have not developed the ranching areas, so I cannot go and say I put a law – to stop who? If I stop the people, what is the alternative?”
IGP Idris Urges Closer Police-public Cooperation
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alhaji Ibrahim Idris yesterday called for closer cooperation between the police and the general public, in order to ensure effective policing.
Idris made this call when he paid a courtesy call on Tor Tiv, Prof James Ayatse, and 10 other first-class paramount rulers in Makurdi, Benue State capital
The police boss stated that he would put in place, every necessary strategy to check crime and criminality in the state, adding that public involvement in security was crucial for the curtailment of criminal activities.
“The police will cooperate fully with any organisation or group that assists in adding value to its service,” police chief said.
He added that the present Nigeria Police leadership was prepared to work with any group towards ensuring the protection of the lives and property of citizens.
“We want to see a crime-free society such that law abiding citizens can always go to bed with their two eyes closed,” Idris said.
The police boss called on the state’s residents to always provide the police with information on criminal activities even as he noted that security agents were already combing all corners toward apprehending the gunmen who killed over 70 natives of the state recently.
He also urged traditional rulers to cooperate with security agencies in the effort to restore law and order in Benue.
Idris noted that operational numbers had been released to the general public and urged the monarchs to mobilise their subjects to use them to assist the police.
The inspector general commiserated with Benue people over their human and material losses, and promised to ensure an end to such carnage.
Tor Tiv Alleges Ethnic Cleansing Agenda
The Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Prof James Ayatse, has described the killings of Benue indigenes on New Year Day as an ethnic cleansing agenda.
The Tor Tiv said this yesterday in Makurdi during the requiem mass for the mass burial of 73 people killed by herdsmen on January 1 in Guma and Logo local government councils.
He said the persistent attacks on Benue communities were worrisome, especially since the federal government failed to prevent recurrence.
He said the herdsmen had attacked Benue 47 times in the last five years in a fashion akin to an agenda of genocide.
“I, therefore, call on the federal government to act swiftly by putting an end to these killings; this act of impunity must stop,” he said.
He encouraged Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom to stand firm in his resolve to implement the Anti-open grazing Law no matter the threats from the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the umbrella body of Fulani herders.
The paramount ruler called for prayers for the dead and appealed to the media to report the carnage that had befallen the state.
An elder statesman and Second Republic minister of steel and industry, Mr Paul Unongo, sounded a strong warning to the aggressors, saying ‘enough is enough’.
He said the people of the state who fought in the civil war to sustain the unity of Nigeria would not continue to allow invaders to kill and maim their people if the federal government failed to protect them.
“We are capable of raising a million people to defend our land if nothing is done to stop the killings. Enough of the killings,” he warned.
Earlier, in his funeral oration, the Catholic Bishop of Gboko Diocese, Most Rev. Williams Avenya, prayed for the repose of the souls of the dead and called for prayers for the survivors of the attacks.
He expressed regret that despite the massive support the people gave to the APC at the federal level, all they receive in return were the 73 corpses of their beloved ones murdered in cold blood.
Also in a speech, the country representative of the United Nations in Nigeria, Mr. Martins Ejidike, said the world body would consider the request for humanitarian assistance to the people 50,000 displaced during the attacks.
He gave assurance that the UN would further discuss the details of the assistance with the Benue State governor and prayed for peace in the state.
In his remark, Governor Samuel Ortom said that this was the most heartless killing in Benue.
“If the herdsmen think that the killing of our people would make us stop the enforcement of the law, they have failed. We will not be deterred by their thinking because I am ready to pay the supreme price for the implementation of the anti-open grazing law,” he said.
The governor reiterated his call for the arrest of the factional leader of Miyietti Allah Kautal Houre over the killings.
On his part, the chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Akpe Leva, said the spirit of the departed ones and the God of Benue people would rise up to torment the blood thirsty terrorists who brought tears and sorrow to the land.
One of the survivors, Akaatenger Azinga, said that he and his wife were asleep when the attackers came and knocked at the door and his wife went to the door, only for her to be captured and slaughtered by the terrorists.
“I heard my wife scream because they came in the dead of night and when l went to rescue my wife, I discovered that they had slaughtered her and the next thing was that they started chasing and macheting me, but l escaped narrowly to a nearby bush,” he narrated.
73 Victims Given Mass Burial
Makurdi, the Benue State capital, was calm and solemn yesterday as the remains of the 73 people murdered in a recent attack by suspected herdsmen were buried amidst tears by the deceased’s family members and other sympathisers at Genabe village in Makurdi local government area of Benue State.
In a sermon, the Catholic Bishop of Gboko Diocese, His Lordship,Bishop William Avenya, decried the persistent killings of people and destruction of properties in the state over the years in 14 local out of the 23 local government areas in the state and the slow response of the federal government in curtailing the attacks.
Bishop Avenya described the killers as vicious terrorists who are masquerading as herdsmen to cause their barbaric agenda on innocent citizens
“Benue citizens voted massively for the president but since he assumed office, there is no federal presence in Benue; rather what we got in return is the 73 dead bodies that are lying here and one would wonder if there is any government in Nigeria.
“Can we now say the change we voted for is these dead bodies we are seeing here. So the change we voted for is for the Fulani terrorists to be carrying AK47 in the name of pastoralists?” he asked.
He called on Benue citizens to support governor Samuel Ortom in his bid to bring development to the state, affirming that “we are solidly behind the anti-open grazing bill, no going back.”
Our correspondent observed that schools, shops, markets and many other business activities were shut as a show of respect of the deceased.