By Ajuzieogu Chukwuebuka (Abia Writers)
Edited by Livingrich Ezeikpe
Tribal leaders in Benue under the aegis of Mdzough U Tiv (MUT), Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’igede have kicked against the plan by the federal government of Nigeria to establish cattle ranches in the state. The ethnic groups said that the plan was a ploy to give out Benue land to Buhari and his boys- the herdsmen.

The groups in a statement signed by Chief Edward Ujeg, the President-General of Mdzough U Tiv; Barr. Amali Odoya Amali, the President of Idoma National forum and Comrade Ben Okpa, President General, Omi Nyi’Igede, averred that cattle-rearing remain private business in the world and Nigeria in particular just like crop farming and should be treated as such.

The statement reads, “Our attention has been brought to a publication in several national dailies concerning the establishment of pilot cattle ranches in 10 states of the country including Benue. The proposed project, which has a 10-year plan is estimated to gulp N179 billion and is to be sourced by the Federal Government to commence the project.

While we appreciate the position of the Federal Government to accept ranching as the global best method of animal husbandry, which has been our position in Benue State, we reject the idea by the FG to use public funds to construct ranches for a private business of cattle rearing. “We wish to state that cattle-rearing remains a private business in the world and Nigeria in particular just like crop farming and should be treated as such.

There is a law on Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment enacted by the Benue State government and the law makes explicit provisions for those interested in the business of rearing cattle to come forward, acquire land and build ranches. These herders will also have to abide by the terms and conditions of the land acquisition and the host communities will also have a sense of belonging.
“As we reaffirm our support and stance for this law and all its provisions, we view the attempt by the Federal Government to build ranches for herders in our state as a grand plan to grab our land and give it to herdsmen in the name of ranches.

“We wish to also reiterate our earlier call on the Federal Government to arrest and prosecute the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore for their complicity in the Benue killings. If these people are not arrested and interrogated for threatening to invade our communities and carrying out their threats, we will continue to treat both the Federal Government and our killers as one.

“The forum of Mdzough U Tiv (MUT), Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’Igede reject the Federal Government’s continued push to actualize grazing routes and cattle colonies which Nigerians have vehemently resisted.”

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