Protesters block Benue Govt House, demand quick passage of anti-grazing bill

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protests lasted for hours and were coordinated by some Non-Governmental Organisations.

NAN also reports that the protesters carried placards with various inscriptions some of which read: “we want a quick passage of the anti-grazing bill”, “President Buhari please do more to end the farmers/herdsmen clashes”, among others.

Mr Justine Gbagir, who led the protests, appealed to the state government to adopt measures aimed at preventing future attacks in the state.

Gbagir,who is the Chairman, Justice Rights Human Initiative, said that the early passage of the bill would check the intermittent clashes between farmers and herdsmen.

He called for stringent measures to secure the rural areas from invaders, and promised full support to initiatives that would bring permanent peace to Benue.

“We want the Federal Government to replicate the measures used in tackling insurgency in the north-eastern parts of the country in the fight against herdsmen attacks,” he said.

He said that the invaders had raped women and attacked farmers after destroying their crops, and expressed fear of food shortages if the situation was not checked.

The spokesman urged the legislators to pass the executive bill without altering its content so as to safeguard human lives.

Responding to their agitations, Gov. Samuel Ortom expressed optimism that the legislators would respond promptly to the yearnings of the people by passing the bill.

Ortom, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Benson Abounu, promised that government would do everything within its powers to protect the people.

NAN reports that the Benue House of Assembly began a public hearing on the grazing bill on Monday. The hearing is to hold in each of the three senatorial districts.

The anti-grazing bill, presented to the lawmakers by Ortom last week, seeks to end open grazing which the governor said was responsible for the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen.

The bill recommends the establishment of cattle ranches to check the movement of cattle in search of grazing fields.

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