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‘It’s based on wrong advice’ — herdsmen kick against anti-grazing law

 

The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) says the Benue State government must revisit its anti-grazing law for peace to reign.

Usman Ngelzerma, Secretary-General of the association, said this during a chat with journalists, stressing that the way of life of a people should not be toiled with.

“I like the Benue State governor (Samuel Ortom). He is a peace-loving person, but [he] is working on wrong advice,” Ngelzerma said.

“The approach he took is wrong. You cannot change the way of life of a people like the way you turn off a light switch.

“We don’t wish for the crisis to continue but let us give it (the anti-grazing law) another look. We don’t like the killings; we will never condone the killing of people. Give the farmers their rights but consider the pastoralists too.”

Ngelzerma also said that the livestock guards that were employed by the state government to enforce the anti-open grazing law were also to blame for the January 1 crisis.

“The livestock guards have constituted themselves to the police and the court at the same time. They impose penalties on herdsmen, fine them huge sums of money before releasing them. That was the situation before this crisis erupted,” he said.

In an interview with BBC Pidgin, Garos Gololo, Chairman of the Benue State chapter of MACBAN, said the recent killings were in retaliation for the theft of 1,000 cows by some people in the state.

“After the Benue government banned grazing, we were relocating to Taraba State through Nengere border town of Nasarawa State. They came and stole one thousand cows from us, so we retaliated,” Gololo was quoted as saying.

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Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force said it was making progress with investigations into the crisis.




     

     

    Joshak Habila, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Operations, said detectives had been sent all over the state and leaders of the herdsmen association invited and questioned.

    “They (Miyetti Allah) have given their statements and we are verifying,” Habila said.

    “We have been able to gather a lot of intelligence from the communities that were affected and also picked some traces of evidence.

    “I’m sure we are going to get a window, we are going to get a lead; it is never too late. But I can assure you that those who would be connected to the killings would not be spared.”

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