Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that the state has no 5,000 hectares of land to donate for the establishment of ranches as requested by the Federal Government.
He said the state could only afford to lease land to law-abiding Nigerians who were willing to live peacefully in Benue and do their legitimate businesses.
Speaking, on Tuesday, at the Government House, in Makurdi, while inaugurating the 19 chairmen and members of state owned Boards and Commissions, Governor Ortom described as ‘saddening and barbaric’, the level of killings and destruction of property in Benue, Plateau and other parts of the North Central by armed militant herdsmen.
His words, “We have said that those who are law abiding are free to live in Benue state and do there legitimate businesses.
“They can apply for land and set up their ranches in line with the provisions of the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishments Law.
“Our adoption of ranching is to the extent of what is in our law and I have repeatedly said that we do not have one single 5,000 hectares of land for the establishment of a single massive ranch but we can avail individuals land to set up personal ranches as provided by our law which remains the panacea for the crisis.”
The governor, while condoling with his Plateau State colleague, Simon Lalong over the killings, called on security agencies to without any further delay arrest and prosecute the leadership of Miyetti Allah following their admission that the attack was a reprisal for the killing of 300 cows belonging to their members.
He continued, “Those who have claimed responsibility for the killings should be arrested. Just like we in Benue have been calling for their arrest for their complicity in the Benue killings.
“What is the government waiting for? It is heartrending that in a country of close to 200 million people this kind of act takes place as if we are still living in the past.”