From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State government has insisted that the recent amendment to the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law which stipulates stiffer penalties has come to stay.
The state government also called on Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to demonstrate its indegenship of Benue by being law abiding and joining hands to develop the state.
Senior Special Assistant to Governor Samuel Ortom on Animal Husbandry, Alhaji Shehu Tambaya made the call while reacting to a statement credited to the state chapter of MACBAN in which the association raised some pertinent issues concerning the law as amended.
Speaking on MACBAN’s appeal for reduction of fines for impounded cattle which was increased from N2000 to N50,000 among other penalities, Tambaya said the price is even cheap considering the fact that Benue was first to enact the grazing law.
“As the first state to enact the law banning open grazing, Benue has to also set the pace for the fines as other states who came after Benue already have fines that are far much more than what Benue was charging at the initial stage.
“Why should Benue which started this law charge the cheapest? They (MACBAN) should understand this,” Tambaya stated.
On the appeal by MACBAN that its members be considered as bonafide indigenes of the state, Tambaya noted that as a very amiable Governor who has the interest of everyone at heart, his principal has never discriminated against any tribe so long as the people are law abiding.
“Ortom is one Governor who recognises everybody including the Hausa Fulani and has demonstrated that by appointing some and others elected as councillors. So one wonders why they are saying they are not recognised as indigenes.
“Majority of these Hausa Fulani live in the heart of the state capital like Kano street, Kaduna Street, Bauchi Street, Lagos Street, Ikeja Street, Madico all in Wadata area of Makurdi and North Bank 2.
Tambaya added that the law does not discriminate against anybody as cattle belonging to Tiv, Idoma, Hausa Fulani, Igbo and other tribes have been impounded in the past for open grazing and some of them even charged to court and prosecuted.
The Governor’s aide further added that cattle rustlers who were Tiv, Idoma, Hausa-Fulani and other tribes have been arrested and prosecuted in the past which according to him, is a proof that the law is not discriminatory against any tribe.
He urged the MACBAN to encourage their members to obey the law of the land by either ranching their cattle or seeking solace in other states if they must continue to openly graze their livestock.
“The Governor has consistently vowed never to surrender the state to criminals. So anyone who is criminally minded can seek solace in other states. See
“If truly MACBAN members are Benue indigenes as they have said, they should forget about the differences that they have mentioned and join the government of Samuel Ortom to develop Benue State,” Tambaya concluded.