From Magnus Eze and Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, has insisted that the state does not have and would not yield any piece of its land for RUGA, ranching or whatever name it is called.
He also denied that his state has received N6billion from the Federal Government for the development of ranching in the area.
This is as many Igbo groups and indigenes of Ebonyi said it would amount to a sellout if actually the governor clandestinely dragged the state into the ranching imbroglio given what the South East had passed through in the hands of marauding Fulani herders in recent times.
Reacting to a statement by Malam Garba Shehu, media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari who said on a television programme that four states including Ebonyi had received N24 billion grant for ranching, the Ebonyi State Government noted that it had been inundated with inquiries for clarification.
In a statement, yesterday, by Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Francis Nwaze, Umahi said: “That Ebonyi State Government never at any time received any money for ranching in the State and will not receive any money for the same purpose as there is no available land for ranching in the state.
“That should any Ebonyian opt to engage in personal ranching, Ebonyians should see such venture as a personal decision of such person who must use his/her land for the purpose.
“This is because Ebonyi State Government has continued to maintain that there is no land for ranching in the state and it is not about reneging from the decision.”
Leader of Ohanaeze Youths Wing, Damian Okafor, said no state in the South East will be allowed to promote open grazing of cattle or embrace the ranching project of the Federal Government.
Okafor, who stated that youths of the region were solidly behind the governors of the southern states in their resolution against open grazing, added that there was no land for such activities under any guise.
“We don’t want to lose more innocent lives in Igbo land. Enough of this carnage,” he said.