Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State says that the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition law that came into effect on 24th January has come to stay and no pronouncements can upturn it.
Governor Ishaku was reacting to the announcement, on Tuesday, by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali that the Federal Government was considering the suspension of the open grazing prohibition law in the three states of Ekiti, Taraba and Benue.
Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, in a statement signed by Col. Tukur Gusau, at the end of the meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, suggested the “need to employ other channels with the affected states to reduce tension by suspending the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law while also negotiating safe routes for the herders.
In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, the Senior Special Assistant, media to the governor Mr. Bala Dan Abu, said that the minister is acting without proper understanding of the issues as the law came about as a solution to the problem of herdsmen killings and not the cause of the problem.
“I must say that the minister is I’ll informed. He does not seem to understand the issues at hand properly and that explains their inability to resolve them. Herdsmen attacks predates this law. These herdsmen have been killing people for the past seven years or thereabouts. This is what necessitated this administration’s decision to come up with this law.
“The law as it is now is meant to stop the killings. If herdsmen no longer wander into people’s farms to graze of their crops, the crisis would be reduced greatly. The instances of cattle rustling would also reduce as it would become easier to secure the cows.
“So if the government is blaming the wanton killings on the law, what about the areas, the states that do not have the law and yet there is just as much attacks and killings? Is it the law that is causing the killings in Zamfara, Plateau, Kogi, and all the other states across the country where open grazing is not prohibited?
“I would not want to say that the Federal Government has ulterior motives but I think they lack a proper understanding of the issues here and that explains their inability to tackle these issues.
“In any case, this law was duly passed by the state Assemblies of the respective states and so it is only through the instrumentality of the States Houses of Assembly that the law can be repealed, and Taraba state is not ready to do that as the reasons for law still remain valid”, Governor Ishaku concluded.
In a swift reaction, however, the state chairman of Miyetialah Alhaji Sahabi Tukur described the decision by the federal government as long overdue.
Tukur alleged that the law was actually providing a shield for people to commit crimes and blame it on the Fulanis.
“This decision is not coming to us as a surprise. This is what we had expected even the state government to do long before now. It is unfortunate that all our efforts to make the state governor see reasons did not work.
“It is true that the law was duly passed by the state Assembly but the federal government can not sit back and allow these killings and crisis to continue. They have to do something.
“I have always said that the crisis in Taraba is political and ethno religious and not about farmers and herdsmen. And so to end the crisis, the state government must sit down with the key stakeholders to address the issue. The problem now is that, people hide under the law to attack others and then blame it on the Fulanis”, Tukur said
Tukur called on the Federal government to empower the traditional rulers and institutions to checkmate inflow and outflow of people within their chiefdoms and in doing so, control the security situations there.
In his reaction, former Nigerian Envoy to the republic of Cameroon Ambassador Emmanuel Njiwa said that the call by the federal government was not only unnecessary but malicious, and said that the states have taken position steps towards developing livestock production and to check the killings and no one should try to stop them.