Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State government has expressed worry over the rate of infringement by herdsmen on the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 currently in force in the state.
Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hyacinth Nyakuma, stated this while handing over 187 cattle and 44 sheep that were impounded by the Benue Livestock Guards after they were found grazing openly in Makurdi.
“The law is still in force and therefore being fully implemented. It is surprising that the law is being infringed on a regular basis by some herdsmen. The rate at which infringements are taking place is becoming worrisome.”
Nyakuma who appealed to the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to caution herdsmen against breaking the law explained that the law was enacted by the state government to entrench lasting peace and not for benefits derivable from levies and charges.
“We also ask genuine herdsmen who want to ply their trade in the state to come forward and request for land to set up their ranches in line with global best practices and as stipulated in the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law 2017.”
Responding, State Chairman of MACBAN, Ubi Haruna while thanking the state government for returning the exact number of animals that were initially impounded back to their owner however pleaded for more understanding with herdsmen.
On his part, acting Secretary of MACBAN, Ibrahim Galma while pleading that the state government should give the association more time to educate its people about the law, posited that a lot of nomadic Fulani herdsmen are still not aware of the law.
“A large number of the Fulani are not aware of the law. This is the dry season and Benue usually accommodates a lot of herdsmen this time around. As members of MACBAN, we are trying to raise awareness about the law among our people. The state government should do more sensitisation and consider the indigenous Fulani living in the state.”