The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has appealed to the Federal Government to prevail on the Benue government to extend the implementation of its Anti-Open Grazing law scheduled to take effect from Nov.1.
In an interview with the Newsmen on Sunday in Makurdi, the National Coordinator of the association, Alhaji Garus Gololo, said the extension of the implementation time would enable both the government and herders resolve some grey areas in the law. He, however, did not disclose the duration of the extension needed. Gololo regretted that the law had placed certain responsibilities on the part of herders which were difficult to fulfill within the timeframe provided for its implementation. ” For instance, we are expected to ranch our cattle, but a typical ranch involves the construction of schools for the children of the nomads, a veterinary clinic, borehole for its water supply, electricity and adequate space for the cattle to graze within the ranch. ” At the moment, what the government has promised is only the pivot ranches where all arrested cattle would be kept for a time after which it would be sold.”
According to him, since it is difficult to buy land from the villagers, government should construct ranches and rent them to herdsmen. “They can build the ranches and give them to our members on rent since it is not possible to get land from the indigenes. We will rent them from the government and keep our cattle there.” He said it would not be in the interest of all for the Fulani’s to leave the state in anger and called on the federal government to intervene to save the state from further crises. He, however, stated that the herdsmen were set to migrate to Nasarawa, Taraba and Niger states if all entreaties for extension of the implementation time for the law failed. Gololo, accused Gov. Samuel Ortom’s Security Adviser, retired Col. Edwin Jando, of masterminding the anti open grazing law as a move to chase out the Fulani’s from the state. ” We (MACBAN) have no confidence in Col. Jando. He does not want us and our cattle in Benue and we are leaving. I have written a petition to the governor against Jando,” Gololo said. Responding to the accusations by Gololo, Jando said nobody wanted the Fulani’s out of the state. Jando explained that the herdsmen were carried along in all processes leading to the enactment of the law, therefore, it was not correct for MACBAN to claim that the law was against them and sought to flush them out of the state.
He said the import of the law was to protect livestock owners by criminalizing cattle rustling. “Apart from providing a permanent solution to incessant clashes between farmers and herders, it protects livestock owners by criminalizing cattle rustling. ” The extensive sensitization and advocacy of this law has made the MACBAN who were initially apprehensive to now support it. “In view of the above facts, it is not true that Fulanis are not wanted in Benue,” he explained.