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Al-Makura Benue's anti-grazing law responsible for deaths in Nasarawa - Governor

The governor said sharing boundaries with Benue has caused Nasarawa problems with violent herdsmen.

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Benue's anti-grazing law responsible for deaths in Nasarawa - Al-Makura play Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom (left) and Nasarawa State governor, Umar Tanko Al-Makura (First Post)

Nasarawa State governor, Umar Tanko Al-Makura, has disclosed that the implementation of the anti-grazing law in Benue State is responsible for herdsmen attacks in his state as both state share borders.

The governor made the claim during an interview with The Nation, published on Sunday, March 11, 2018, affirming that Benue's troubles usually spill into Nasarawa.

According to Al-Makura, killings have happened in Nasarawa by herdsmen running from Benue as well as militants from the neighbouring state.

He said, "I can tell you that what happened recently in Nasarawa State was a repercussion of the implementation the anti-grazing law in Benue State, especially within Nasarawa State, I wouldn't say about another state.

"We have not enacted that law, but within the neighbourhood we are sharing boundaries with Benue State. Whatever challenges they are facing in Benue affects us too one way or the other; and because we share boundaries, there are bound to be inter-migration of the people in both states. We have become victims of circumstance.

"There are two types of killings; there are herdsmen that are running away and on their way to Nasarawa posing dangers to citizens of both Benue and Nasarawa States.

"Also there has been killings by certain militants from Benue entering into Nasarawa and also perpetrating killings."

Al-Makura had been involved in a public spat with Benue governor, Samuel Ortom, after the latter claimed that herdsmen that were responsible for attacks in Benue had been camping in a community in Nasarawa. Ortom later apologised to Al-Makura.

Nasarawa won't implement anti-grazing law

During the interview, Governor Al-Makura further revealed that Nasarawa has found a way to resolve the tension between cattle herders and local farmers without making any problematic laws.

He said the state has a resolution mechanism which involves committees across four levels that have been effective in avoiding the escalation of conflicts.

He said, "I'd rather that every state look at the peculiarity of its own situation and find an in-house arrangement to manage that just like we are doing in Nasarawa State.

"We have a community-based conflict resolution mechanism and we have committees in the four levels in the wards, towns, in the development areas and in the state. And wherever there is some kind of crisis between the farmers and herdsmen such committees become handy and solve the problems.

"With the success of this it will be crazy of me now to embark on anti-grazing law when the in-house arrangement of conflict resolution mechanism is working for me because anti grazing law comes with its different kinds of repercussions.

"So before you make the law, one needs to understand that the more graphic figure of the cattle that you have the size of the land and the infrastructure facility that could handle this people and how easy it is also for them to get the land.

"Each state should look at it from its own peculiarity like I said earlier, and then have an in-house home grown solution to it.

"In Nasarawa we have grazing reserves in most of the local governments; out of 13, I think we have grazing reserves in about nine to 10. So we will recover most of these grazing reserves, they are large expanse of land that could be deployed for the herdsmen to go and do their business without inconveniencing anybody."

Cattle colony will protect herdsmen

Governor Al-Makura also noted that the Federal Government's cattle colony initiative to house cattle herders on 5,000-hectare properties across the country could be important to solving the farmers/herdsmen crisis.

He said, "Given the frequencies of this problem, any responsible administration must find a way, means to get rid of this kind of crisis. I think it is quite a wise decision to propose the issue of cattle colony.

"No you cannot substitute herdsmen for bandits. Cattle colony is not to give freedom or leverage to bandits but to give leverage to herdsmen.

"It's so unfortunate that the activities of bandits and these criminal militants is now stigmatizing virtually every herdsman.

"You cannot just generalize that every herdsman is a bandit. When the federal government thought out the idea of cattle colony, it is not to give any bandit leverage but to protect the traditional, normal and law abiding herdsmen, and to be able to do that vocationally without any hindrances and contribute to the economic growth of the country.

"I believe, if this issue of cattle colony takes off, the pressure on the frequency of this kind of crisis is going to subside."

He further praised the Federal Government's response to the crisis that escalated and has led to the death of over 200 victims across many states since January 2018.

"Given the circumstances, I think the federal government and the security operatives are trying their best. In Nasarawa we have been given nine units of mobile police to ensure surveillance of people who can appear to attack from Benue," he said.

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