<<< By Ede Ogaba Ede >>>
Benue state acting governor, Engr Benson Abounu has hailed the ban on open grazing of animals in the country by the National Economic Council (NEC), describing it as a vindication of the position of Benue state, that crop production and animal husbandry cannot co-exist on the same piece of land and that the best way of guaranteeing peace between farmers and herdsmen is ranching of animals.
Engr. Abounu spoke yesterday at Makurdi on his return from Abuja where, he attended the National Economic Council (NEC) alongside governors of other states, and other co-opted members.
He said Benue state has been in the fore-front of the campaign for ranching in this country, standing its ground in the face of serious intimidations and threats; realising that it offers more benefit to the herdsmen, crop farmers and the entire country.
Rising from Thursday’s meeting of the NEC which was chaired by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Ebonyi state governor and chairman of the technical sub-committee on the farmers/herdsmen crisis, Engr Dave Umahi told newsmen that the NEC has approved the recommendation of the sub-committee banning open grazing of cattle as well as their movement from north to south of the country and also, their movement across the borders into Nigeria.
The ban on the movement of cattle is to begin in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau states where the killing of farmers have been most pronounced.
The Umahi-led technical sub-committee on herdsmen/farmers clashes constituted by the government in February 2018 with the mandate to unravel the causes of the clashes and dialogue with relevant stakeholders to end the killings of innocent citizens had Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, Darius Ishaku of Taraba, Simon Dalong of Plateau and Bindo Jubrilla of Adamawa state as members.
Engr Abounu who attended many of the meetings said he is happy that the National Economic Council finally accepted the position which Benue state has consistently canvassed and held onto. He expressed optimism that the decision by NEC would put a halt to the persistent farmers/herdsmen clashes in the country.
He warned those creating panic in the state with false stories of attacks on innocent people and the burning of mosques to desist from it and instead support security personnel with timely and useful information to enable them restore peace to the state.
He described as false, inflammatory and unhelpful, a newspaper report about the purported killing of some members of the Hausa community in Makurdi and the burning of mosques.
The acting governor called on the security agencies to carry out thorough investigation and arrest for prosecution, those behind the recent attacks on innocent people in Gwer East and West, Guma, Okpokwu, Logo and other local government areas.