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Withdrawal of anti-open grazing law: Defence minister needs to apologise to Nigerians, says Ortom

SAMUEL Ortom, Governor of Benue State, says Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence needs to apologise to Nigerians for calling for the repeal of anti-open grazing laws by some states of the federation.

The defence minister made the comments on June 5, after a security council meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and all the service chiefs in the country, including the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

Reacting to the comments on Tuesday, at an event in Abuja on the national livestock transformation plan, which is being anchored by the office of the vice-president, Ortom said a serving member of the federal executive cabinet cannot be seen as a spokesman of the Miyetti Allah cattle breeders association.

“I wonder if the minister (of defence) has had time to read the newspapers, he would have felt the feelings of Nigerians for him calling for the suspension of a legitimate law,” Ortom said, while addressing Audu Ogbeh, the Minister for Agriculture.

“It is not good enough, it is casting the government in bad light and the minister of the federal republic should represent the interest of Nigerians. He should not be the mouthpiece of Miyetti Allah in a conflict involving Nigerians.

“Especially when it is not your technical supervision. He should have allowed it to you the honourable minister of agric, who has the responsibility of managing this.

“Coming from a security council meeting and making such statements, some people took it as the opinion of the security council. He needs to apologise to Nigerians.”

The anti-open grazing law, which is already in effect in Benue, Ekiti and Taraba States, prohibits nomads from going about with their cattle and grazing on open fields. Instead, the law makes provision for the creation of ranches for the breeding of cattle.

This is an attempt at ending the years of incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen which has led to the loss of several lives and destruction of property worth millions of naira.

Also speaking at the event on Tuesday,Audu Ogbeh, the Agric Minister said the era of leading cattle from place to place in search of pasture is over.

“Marching cattle around is no longer viable. We have to resolve to ranching and ranching in clusters is difficult,” Ogbeh said.

“We about dealing with the problem as they have been presented. We want to assure Nigerians that we want to bring this crisis to an end. These wanton killings has to come to an end.”

The federal government has already secured 94 cattle ranches across 10 states of the federation as part of the national livestock transformational plan, according Andrew Kwasari, a senior technical adviser to the Minister of Agriculture.

Kwasari said the ranches will accommodate 170,000 cows during the pilot phase and about N70 billion would be needed to fund the ranches for the three years.

Expected milk output from the 170,000 cows is put at over 200 million litres in the first two years.

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