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Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on Monday disclosed that about 400 persons have been arrested while 50 were prosecuted for violating the anti- grazing law in the state.
Governor Ortom stated this on Monday after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The State government had enacted the anti-grazing law to curtail the incessant clashes between farmers and cattle grazers.
Governor Ortorm said the state had become relatively peaceful since the enactment of the anti- grazing law.
According to him, “The law is still in force in Benue State and we are implementing it,” adding that “everyone is free to establish ranch, we are not targeting any individual or group. Anyone who wants to do cattle business should come to Benue and ranch, that we have land for it but for open grazing ,we have no land.”
“We have convicted 50 people for contravening various offenses and we have seized more than 2,000 cattle. But we have ensured no one has molested any cattle, nor killed any cattle,” he assured.
“Once you cattle is seized for open grazing by the livestock guard, within seven days when your cattle is quarantined if you don’t come to pay fines and redeem your cattle we auction them. “So far, everyone that we have arrested has come to redeem and so we have not had any cause to auction any cattle.
Governor Ortom said security agencies have arrested 400 of various ethnic background, including Fulani, Igbos, Yoruba, Tiv, Idoma, adding that the law was not a respecter of persons
He debunked claims that the State is among the 17 states considered insolvent as following poor Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in 2018 which were said to be far below 10 per cent of their receipts from the Federation Account Allocations (FAA) in the same year.
Ortom said he was at the Presidential Villa to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the security situation in his state, even as he affirmed that the state is able to pay the N30,000 minimum wage and meet other demands.
Ortom said: “The plan is to look inward and see how we can generate more funds, improve on our internally generated revenue (IGR), lock some leakages and see how we can cut down cost of governance and see where that will take us.”
“One thing is that I believe in dialogue and I am very transparent with my finances, they are for everyone to see. I have been very cordial with workers in Benue State. For me, if I have my way they should even earn more than N30,000 if the resources are there. They deserve it; we go to the same market and so we know the cost of living and other things are involved. The challenge is whether the resources will be there. I believe that we will look for ways and I believe it is not only Benue State, there are about 17 states…all together maybe at governors forum, there will be a way to get out of it.”
“Nigeria is a Federation, there must be synergy between states and the Federal Government to be able to surmount the security challenges, to be able to save lives and property,” he added.
Reacting on the situation on Katsina Ala road, the governor said all the stakeholders in the state were willing to corporate to address the insecurity situation, except for one notorious criminal “Gana,” who was trained by Boko Haram and had continued to terrorise the state.
“He is the one instrumental to the Kidnappings happening between Benue and Taraba State. All forms of criminality – armed robbery, assassinations and so on. The community too have given up because as at today, the three local governments of Katsina Ala, Logo and Ukum are not safe. No educational, farming, commercial activities are going on, the Igbos that are major traders have vacated. With operation Y Stroke we are going to move against them and we believe we will be able to surmount them,” he said.
Tony Ailemen, Abuja