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Ortom says anti-open grazing law stays

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Governor of Benue State Samuel Ortom./ AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

• As Group Vows To Oppose Aspirants Seeking Its Repeal

Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has said threats to his life would not deter him from standing firm in defence of his people.He re-affirmed that the state’s anti-open grazing law has come to stay, just as he vowed to continue resisting attempts from outside forces to repeal the law.He spoke on Friday at the maiden public lecture organised by the Conference of Benue Journalists (CBJ) with the theme: “The Effects of Herdsmen and Farmers Crises on Food Security in Nigeria” in Abuja.

Ortom has also expressed confidence in winning the forthcoming Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in the state.The governor, who gave the assurance, yesterday, in Makurdi after his return from the party’s successful screening in Abuja, said he would emerge victorious in 2019 election.
While lamenting the plight of people in various Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDPs) in the state, Ortom wondered why a certain section of the country would want to forcefully impose their values on other people in a secular society like Nigeria.

He said: “I stand on the path of truth in the defence of my people, who elected me. As long as I am alive, I will continue to defend my people and the unity of this country.

Meanwhile, three major socio-cultural organisations in Benue State comprising Mzough -U- Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omni Igede, have vowed to oppose any aspirant s with the intention to repeal the state’s anti-open grazing law.

Consequent to this, the groups have asked all candidates aspiring for political offices to sign undertaking that they would not tamper with the ranching law, if elected.

The groups led by President General, Mzough-U-Tiv, Edward Ujege, said: “We believe in the law and stand by it. Anybody that does not believe in it is working against the state. We commend the state assembly, Gov. Samuel Ortom, Gabriel Suswam and other stakeholders for their commitment to the law.”

Ortom said: “Over 200 people, who would have been in school are currently at home, while about 500, 000 IDPs are scattered across various camps in the state. Some died while running away from death and I remember very well that when the Sharia Law was enacted in Zamfara State, Benue indigenes that were not comfortable with the law relocated to their state. How can we achieve development in the midst of lawlessness?”

The impact of the bill, according to the governor, was being felt as over 200 herdsmen have been arrested out of which 49 were convicted.Earlier in his presentation, a Professor of Archeology at Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Zacharys Anger Gundu, said Fulani herdsmen were the biggest destabilising factor in Nigeria.

He linked the killings to an international agenda, with Nigeria being strategically targeted for invasion and occupation.Blaming past leaders of the state over failure to address the problems at the initial stage, Gundu urged people of the state to resist moves by desperate politicians and enemies of the state to impose a governorship candidate on them.

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