Herders Attacks: FG to pursue peace, disarmament
The Federal Government NEC Sub Committee on herdsmen-farmers crisis has concluded their meeting in Benue and Nasarawa states with an agreement to pursue peace, disarmament and also so support security chiefs to arrest anyone with illegal arms.
This is just as Fulani herdsmen have also agreed to obey the Benue Anti Open Grazing Law but with certain conditions.
Leader of the NEC Sub-Committee on farmers and herdsmen crises and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, who stated this in Makurdi after several meetings with all parties in Benue and Nasarawa states, said all parties to the crises are committed to ceasefire while herdsmen said they will need more time to enable them key into the implementation of the law.
Briefing journalists on their agreements, Umahi disclosed that the committee has also restated its commitment to pursue peace, ensure disarmament of any militia groups as well as the arrest of any group habouring militia and support security agencies to ensure the arrest of anyone in possession of arms.
Umahi said that there are about 2 million hectares of land in 13 states of the north already gazetted for grazing reserves out of which 1million hectares have been developed, also urged the herdsmen to make use of those grazing reserves while states that have anti open grazing law in place are also free to operate their laws.
The committee noted that every state has the right to make laws while individuals in those states have a duty to obey the laws or meet with the authorities to dialogue on any section or sections that they feel will not favour them.
He said the committee agreed to solve the problem in two phases saying the federal government should make grazing reserves operational where they exist while in place where there are no lands and the States want to ranch, those who are there and want to leverage on that can do so as according to him, ranching of cattle will put an end to milk importation.
The team also visited both Benue and Nasarawa states on a fact finding mission where they found 117, 771 people in seven Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Benue and 25,000 IDPs in 22 camps in Nasarawa out of which 20,000 are Tiv people who are indigenes of Nasarawa state.
Umahi said out of the over 117 Benue IDPs, over 70 percent of them are children between the ages of four and eight years adding that "When we visited the camps, the situation of the people there were very devastating"
He requested the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, send the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to Benue and Nasarawa states to evaluate the problems in the camps to see how the IDPs can be assisted.
He commended both Governors of Benue and Nasarawa states, Samuel Ortom and Tanko Al-Makura for their commitment towards ensuring peace in their states as according to him, both governors have no crises between them but have been sharing opinion and information on how to resolve the issues.
"We also observed that Security agencies are already implementing the law in Benue as 32 herdsmen is said to have been arrested and are standing trial. We commend security agencies for the level of deployment even though there is need for more deployment to enable them decongest of the camps so that people can go back to their homes".