From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Government of Benue State has expressed worry over a renewed influx of armed Fulani herdsmen with large herds of cattle into parts of the state.
Deputy Governor Benson Abounu, who raised the alarm while briefing newsmen on Wednesday, disclosed that 376 cows and six herdsmen were apprehended in Kaseyo community of Guma Local Government Area of the state.
While revealing that the herders were being investigated by the authorities, Abounu noted that investigation following the declaration by the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, about regrouping of Boko Haram insurgents at the boundary between Benue and Nasarawa uncovered the mass presence of cattle along River Benue in Agatu and Gwer West Local Government Areas.
He further explained that security checks revealed the invasion of armed herdsmen with AK-47 rifles and large herds of cattle on the brink of River Benue on the Nasarawa State bank.
The Deputy Governor maintained that in keeping with the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state, cows were kept at the quarantine centre in the state and would be released to the owners after fulfilling the necessary conditions.
According to him, Benue as one of the federating units of Nigeria is governed by laws, one of which is the one prohibiting open grazing being enforced effectively with the primary aim of ending conflicts between herders and farmers.
He enjoined livestock farmers to acquire land in the state through a lease for their businesses stressing that Benue is not in any way contemplating abrogating the law for any reason.