Federal lawmakers from Benue State, have accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government of placing premium on Fulani cattle more than the lives of the citizens in Benue.
This was even as the lawmakers also accused the President of having no political will to end the reoccurring attacks on locals in the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Addressing Journalists at the weekend in Abuja, the lawmakers expressed disappointment over the inability of the government to effect arrest or prosecute any of the marauders, who have claimed over 5000 lives in Benue State in the last two years.
They said despite the threats coming from the Miyetti Allah Groups and others since the anti open grazing law was enacted in Benue November , the federal government has decided to pay deaf ears to them.
“We condemn in unequivocal terms provocative and inflammatory statements credited to the National President, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo and the National Secretary, Saleh Alhassan of the group against the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in Benue State”, the lawmakers said.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Hon. Dyegh said the “carnage” and “massive destruction wreaked in the people of the state has almost grounded economic activities “as people have abandoned their farms and businesses due to the ravaging activities of AK-47 bearing herdsmen, who constantly invaded our communities, destroyed farms, property, maim and kill indiscriminately.”
He said “the people are still living with the sordid memories of the massacre in virtually every nook and cranny of the state, particularly in Buruku, Guma, Tarka, Logo, Agatu, Gwer West and Gwer East etc. Thousands of lives and property worth billions of naira have been lost to these inhuman actions of these so called Fulani herdsmen.
“Worried by the continued desecration of our land and a clear agenda to exterminate our people, the Benue State House of Assembly this year passed the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bill, which was signed into law by the Governor, His Excellency, Dr. Samuel Ortom on May 22, 2017.”
While urging President Muhammadu Buhari to support the Open Grazing Prohibition Law, the lawmakers condemned what they called “the campaign of calumny” against Governor Samuel Ortom.
“We use this medium to draw the attention of the federal government and make a passionate appeal to the President and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari to grant full support to the Government of the State by giving a standing order to all security agencies to ensure maximum implementation of this wonderful piece of legislation.
“We hereby use this medium to draw the attention of the federal Government to the threats from Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and the unlawful activities of herdsmen who are violating the law and still openly grazing their cattle in Agatu and Apa Local Government Areas of the State.
“We decry the campaign of calumny against Governor Samuel Ortom by this group and want to declare our unflinching support for the Governor in the implementation of this Law. No individual is above the law and the Miyettu Allah cannot be an exception,” they added.
The lawmakers said the law was not targeted at any group of people, but it permits grazing of livestock only within ranches and prohibits the movement of animals from one destination to another in the state except by rail, trucks and other vehicles.
The lawmakers, who jointly signed the statement handed to the media include, Emmanuel Orker-Jev, John Dyegh, Saleh Hassan, Adamu Ochepo Entonu, Dickson Tarkighir, Mark Terseer Gbillah.
Others include, Emmanuel Udende, Dorathy Mato, Benjamin Wayo, Samuel Okwu and Ezekiel Adaji.
They all vowed to resort to the option of self defense, if the federal government does not rise in protection of lives and property.
They submitted that, enacting the law in Benue was not enough, until the federal government breaks silence to give support to it.