From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Christian faithful in Benue State, on Monday, trooped out in large number in support of the Anti-Open Grazing law recently signed Governor Samuel Ortom. They were also joined by scores of Muslim faithful in the state in the march.
State Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Augustine Akpen Leva, who led the procession to the Government House, in Makurdi, said the walk was to express appreciation to the Governor for signing the bill into law and to also register the displeasure of CAN over the unsavoury statements credited to the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) about the law.
Leva noted that Benue State CAN took exception to the characterisation of the Anti-Open Grazing law by the MAKH as ‘wicked, obnoxious and repressive which is meant to criminalise the means of survival of the Fulani people’.
According to Leva, “This unjustifiable characterisation is to say the least, most preposterous, conspiratorial and confrontational. The process of enacting this law followed all due procedures and all people, including the Fulani and their associations had ample opportunity to make inputs thereto.”
While describing the assertion by MAKH that the Fulanis were the original inhabitants of the Benue valley as ridiculous, preposterous and false, the CAN Chairman stressed that there is neither historical, archeological nor anthropological evidence to indicate that the Fulanis ever inhabited the Benue valley at any time before the advent if the Tiv people or any of the other ethnic groups in Benue.
He therefore called on the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to immediately order the arrest of MAKH President, Abdullahi Bello, and Secretary, Saleh Alhassan, warning that if that was not done urgently, it could lead to further crisis, saying that any breakdown of law and order and further destruction of lives and property by Fulani herdsmen would be blamed on the Federal Government.
Also speaking, Chief Imam of Gboko Mosque, Mallam Bala Ibrahim said the Muslim Community decided to join CAN in the procession in solidarity and to express their support for the government on the Anti-Open Grazing law.
Responding, Governor Samuel Ortom, while commending CAN and the Muslim faithful for the peaceful procession, said he could fathom why anyone would want to mobilise against a law that was duly passed.
“As a responsible government, we had no option than to send the bill to the House of Assembly during which a public hearing was conducted and everybody was allowed to make inputs. I can’t fathom why somebody will now mobilize people to resiste the law. If they do, the law will catch up on them.”
The governor stated that the Fulanis were free to rear their cattle in the state but must ranch them stressed that after November ending, no open grazing would be tolerated in the state. He however encouraged the people of the state to be law abiding.