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Buhari begs Benue leaders ‘in the name of God’ to accommodate herdsmen

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked citizens of Benue State to “exercise restraint” over the recent killings in the state, allegedly by herdsmen, while urging them to “accommodate your countrymen”.

Buhari made the plea when a delegation of leaders in Benue State, led by Samuel Ortom, the State Governor, visited the State House on Monday.

According to a statement issued by Femi Adesina, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Buhari assured his visitors that all the security agencies in the country were working round the clock to restore peace to the state and apprehend the perpetrators of the heinous crimes.

“Your Excellency, the governor, and all the leaders here, I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people,” Adesina quoted Buhari as saying during the meeting.

“I assure you that the Police, the Department of State Security and other security agencies had been directed to ensure that all those behind the mayhem get punished.

“I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen. You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation.”

In response, Ortom commended Buhari for his intervention, and expressed optimism that it would help ease rising tension in the state.

However, in a chat with journalists after the meeting, Ortom expressed displeasure with the idea of cattle colonies brought up by Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture, who is also from Benue State.

Ogbeh had suggested that as part of efforts to mitigate the incessant herdsmen/farmers clashes and the attendant loss of lives, every state should map out hectares of land to be used as cattle colonies. But the suggestion has been widely criticised.

“The last time I came here, I did not understand what colonies was,” ortom said.

“Today, I was privileged to speak to him (Ogbeh) and he explained to me that colonies is about many ranches put in one place, restricted in one place, where the land is.

“So for us in Benue State, there is no 10 hectares. They are looking for 5,000 hectares, (but) for us in Benue State, we have no 10 hectares to allow for that kind of a thing to take place.

“People are free, other states have the land, we in Benue State, we don’t have, and that was what led us to enacting this (anti-open-grazing) law.”

The meeting with Buhari was attended by the likes of Benson Abounu, Benue State Deputy Governor; David Mark, former Senate President; Michael Aondoakaa, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Barnabas Gemade, senator representing Benue North-East and George Akume, former Governor of the state.

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