Barely 48 hours after the mass burial of 73 victims of the recent herdsmen attacks in Benue, the National Vice President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association, Husaini Yusuf Bosso, has warned that more blood will be shed in the state if the anti-grazing law introduced by Governor Samuel Ortom is not completely scrapped.
According to him, the herders have been sorting out their issues with farmers in the state before the Ortom government enacted the anti-grazing law without consulting stakeholders.
“We, the association wrote a letter to him, even met him. We told him that this law cannot work. We told them that there is an international cattle route from Niger to Eastern Nigeria. He said he will not allow cattle to pass through Benue state even if it is the cattle route. We told him that if he wants to implement that law, he must provide a land for us to rent. He did not provide any land for cattle herders. They have been in that state even before colonial days and co-existing peacefully. We advised him and he refused to listen to us. We are not against that law but he has to provide a land for these people before implementing such a law. If there is no land, there is a problem.”
He accused the land guards hired by the state government of terrorizing the herdsmen in the name of implementing the law. “The land guards that he introduced who we all know as the civilian Joint Task Force, they are inflicting pain on the Fulani herdsmen. They attack and seize their animals. They drag them to the nearest police station where huge amount of money is collected before they are granted bail. This is the cause of this problem. If you attack a cattle herder and collect his cattle, he has no choice but to attack.
“The law is saying that herdsmen should not pass through the state even if it’s a route to another area. In the past , if there was damage by the cattle , we had ways to settle the matter. When you damage a farm, you have to beg the owner , if they refuse, you pay for the damages. This has worked for us for years till Benue State decided to implement the anti-grazing law. We have challenged the law in court and till court decides which way forward, Governor Ortom will be held responsible for any further bloodshed. ”
He further alleged that the group as a major stakeholder was not consulted when the law was being debated. “