No land for cattle ranches, colonies in Benue – Ortom

No land for cattle ranches, colonies in Benue – Ortom
January 15 22:18 2018

By Ahmed Idris

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state on Monday said the state government has no land for the establishment of cattle ranches or colonies for herdsmen as being proposed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The governor said this while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, heads of security agencies and top Tiv and Idoma leaders at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The meeting was held at the instance of Benue leaders.

The governor is said to have cautioned that farming, grazing and cattle rearing cannot go hand in hand, hence the need for him to accommodate herdsmen and other interest groups in order to bring lasting peace in the state.

But Ortom said though he’s ready for reconciliation, he is not ready to give land for cattle ranches or colonies in the state.

He said even though the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development had explained to him the meaning of cattle colony and its relevance in addressing security challenges occasioned by farmers and herdsmen conflicts, he still does not understand the concept.

“The Minister of Agriculture happens to be a son of soil; there are many options that are put on the table. Like I told you the last time I came here I did not understand what colony was. Today I was privileged to sit with him and he did explain to me that a colony is about many ranches restricted in one place where the land is.

“So, for us in Benue, there is no 10 hectares, they are looking for 5,000 hectares. For us in Benue state, we have no 10 hectares to allow that kind of thing to take place. So, people are free. Other states have the land, we in Benue state don’t have and that was led to us enacting this law,’’ he said.

Ortom also dismissed reports that the state government had engaged militias to safeguard lives and property in the state, saying that the allegation was mere attempt to divert the attention and turn facts away from realities on the ground.

He said the militias in question were arrested by soldiers Taraba state and have no connection with Benue state government.

He said the state government was in the process of employing volunteers to serve as members of the state’s vigilante group to ensure smooth implementation of the anti-grazing law.