A group, Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN) has asked the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom to halt the anti-grazing law.
GAFDAN while describing the law as harsh and capable of causing breakdown of law and order requested that the law be suspended until alternative to open grazing is provided by the government.
The Governor on Monday signed into law the bill tagged: ‘Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017’.
The law provides a five-year jail term and the possibility of an additional N1million as fine for any violator.
The reaction of the group is contained in a statement in Abuja Wednesday by its Secretary General, Alhaji Sale Bayari.
The statement reads: “We are calling on Governor of Benue state, Mr. Samuel Ortom to immediately halt the enforcement of Benue State Anti-Grazing law called Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017, passed into Law on Thursday 4th May, 2017 by the Benue State House of Assembly and signed into law by the governor on Monday, 21st May, 2017.
“This call has become necessary in view of the fact that our members, the herdsmen have not been provided with any alternative grazing spaces in the state before being asked to comply with this law.
“The law provides for the provision or establishment of cattle ranches, but the law did not provide any clue as to how the herdsmen could access such ranches nor were they told how they could acquire these ranches for themselves and whether they could afford to do so.”
It further read: “We want to advise the Governor and people (farmer) of Benue state not to use the enactment of such repressive and vindictive law to harass our members.
“We appeal to the farmers to distance themselves from taking law into their hands against the herdsmen as this will lead to a serious breakdown of law and order.
“We call on the government and people of Benue State to put this law on hold until an alternative to the open grazing is found or provided by the government.
“It is our view and position that this law is too harsh, reprehensive, repressive and discriminatory by providing for a 5-year jail term and the possibility of an additional N1million as fine.
“This law, in our opinion is a recipe for chaos if not looked into with a view to putting it on hold or to repeal if there is no alternative provided by the government for the herdsmen in the mean time before its enforcement by providing ranches for the herdsmen.”
The group also urged the federal government to intervene. “We wish to call on the Federal Government to intervene immediately and directly through the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe who is coincidentally from Benue state, to halt this ugly situation.
“It is an irony that it is the state where the Minister of Agriculture, a minister that the herdsmen should run to that would be the first state in the entire north to enact such hate law.”
GAFDAN however called on its members in Benue state and sympathisers all over the country and diaspora to be patient, tolerant and obedient to all laws and security agencies and not take the laws into their hands no matter the unconstitutional provocation.
It noted that it would continue to seek constitutional and peaceful means of ensuring that the law is made null and void through whatever means legal and lawful.
Source: The Nation