National Coordinator of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Benue State, Alhaji Garus Gololo, tells JOHN CHARLES that Governor Samuel Ortom has not put in place a law that would address the farmers-herders’ crisis
Governor Samuel Ortom recently alleged that a large number of herdsmen were planning to invade Benue State to cause trouble again. Are your people planning to attack the state?
It is not true that the Fulani herdsmen are planning to invade Benue State to attack innocent people of Benue. It is a false alarm by the governor because there is nothing like that. The allegation is untrue and unfounded. If there is anybody, who is plotting to kill in Benue State, it should be Governor Ortom.
The Federal Government and the international communities should caution the governor and subject him to questioning on why the killings and fights between the farmers/herdsmen have persisted. He knows the answer.
But is it true that your men are moving into Benue State for grazing even when they know there is a law prohibiting open grazing in the state?
I am not aware of any herdsman or herdsmen attempting to cross over from any other part of the country to Benue State to unleash attacks on Benue communities. All those herdsmen with their cows presently seen in and around Benue communities are just returning to their homes because they are from Benue State and they have the right to return to their homes any time.
The law says it is forbidden to graze openly in the state. Why are your people not ready to respect the law?
To me, there is nothing so special about the anti-open grazing law. This is because those who enacted the law did not make any provision for where to rear livestock; rather, they just want to subject our members to untold hardship. These people are returning home because the time has come for them to go back home. Where would they go again? Where will Ortom tell them to go? The governor is only using Fulani herdsmen coming into Benue as a campaign slogan. Let him forget about the Fulani and concentrate on payment of the backlog of salary arrears.
Ortom should not be particular about the Fulani’s entry into Benue. He should focus his attention on how to give account of the Paris Club refund and several bailouts given to the state by the Federal Government and stop using the Fulani herdsmen as a campaign topic.
Why do you say the governor has not made any provision for your members to respect the law?
Ortom did not make provisions for the implementation of the law because no provision was made to accommodate the herdsmen in the state. Instead, they only made provisions to chase us away. Let Ortom show us where the ranch he promised to create is. The governor should show the Fulani herdsmen where to keep our cows before we can recognise the law. This is because we are all Nigerians and also indigenes of Benue State; he can’t just send people away from their homes.
You also raised the alarm recently that the governor was plotting to deny your members their voting rights in the 2019 general elections in Benue State. How do you mean?
I remember l raised such alarm immediately l got the information that Governor Ortom was allegedly plotting to prevent over 6,860 indigenous Fulani from participating in the 2019 general elections. I raised this alarm just to draw the attention of the Federal Government to this development and ask Ortom to drop the plan; nothing more.
You were quoted to have said that the attacks on Benue communities by your members were as a result of the alleged killing by the Tiv people of 1,000 cows belonging to the Fulani herdsmen. How true is this?
I want to debunk the allegation. It was Governor Ortom who first made the allegation against me that I said it was after the Tiv people killed 1,000 cows belonging to the Fulani that the herdsmen came for a reprisal in January 2018. It is a white lie from the pit of hell and should be disregarded by all.
Ortom attempted to assassinate me by sending people, including members of the livestock guards, to kill me but they didn’t succeed. I can say categorically that the governor was behind the January killings in Benue State because he was the one that recruited the Benue youths and armed them to go after those who were not in his good books.
Ortom should show how many projects he has embarked upon and inaugurated since he came on board. He should stop lamenting but should provide dividends of democracy to the Benue people.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: the[email protected]