NSUKKA (TV 360 NIGERIA) -- “Over 680,000 people have been displaced and property worth over N400bn destroyed by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Benue state”, says Governor Samuel Ortom on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Prof Miriam Ikejiani lecture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ortom said:
“Benue has been thrown into humanitarian and economic crisis of numerous proportions.
Homes, schools, churches, health centres, security posts, roads, bridges, farms and other sources of livelihoods have been destroyed.
These have been estimated at over N400bn over the years. Over 180, 000 of our people were registered in eight IDP camps in most part of 2018 while over 500,000 displaced people have been living with relatives in uncompleted buildings and public places in the state.”
He also said the problem of herdsmen is gradually becoming a national one.
“At first, it was Plateau State and southern Kaduna, then Taraba, Adamawa, Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Delta, Cross River, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Enugu, Zamfara, Katsina, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo and other states.”
“It is spreading and soon it will become an obvious national social and economic problem too difficult to contain”, he said
The governor said the passage of the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law in the state led to the frosty relationship between him and the Federal Government.
He said, “Within 12 months, no fewer than four commissioners of police were posted to the state. Some spent less than two months before they were replaced. The motive was obviously to shop for a commissioner of police that would bend the rules in favour of the herdsmen against poor farmers.
“In January 2018, one of the police commissioners who was apparently on a special mission to the state, supervised the illegal impeachment move against me by eight out of 30 members of state House of Assembly a few days after he assumed duties.
“Again, in 2018, there was a circular by the police high command transferring all my police aides to other states. Though the order was later rescinded, I found it strange and unacceptable. It was impunity taken to new heights.”
He insisted that Nigeria needed a grazing law that would encourage ranching as a solution to the herdsmen/farmers conflict.
Ortom said, “Any recommendation about opening cattle routes of the 1950s will not work because on such routes there are hospitals, airports, university campuses and government secretariats.”