There is rising tension in Benue State as Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) and the Benue State Government continued to be at logger-head over the November 1 deadline, set for implementation of the anti-open grazing law.
MACBAN Secretary General, Baba Ngelzarma, on Tuesday in Abuja said the law should be reviewed to reflect ‘human face’ and identified need to amend necessary grey areas that could cause misunderstanding between both parties.
He said the law did not give recognition to the transnational routes which the herdsmen are used to.
But the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, Terver Akase, insisted that the state had given enough time for considerations and conducted adequate enlightenment, thus the implementation would commence as planned. Ngelzarma and Akase spoke live on popular Channels programme.
Ngelzarma stated that members of the association and other pastoralist are already ‘jittery’ over the law, thus need for the state government to reconsider its position on the implementation date.
Ngelzarma, who is MACBAN spokesperson completely kicked against the law. He stressed need to enlighten rural farmers in the state as well as pastoralist on the law.
He said: “We will only support the law so long it won’t affect our members. We are suspicious of the law. Our members are still jittery over it. Immediately the law is implemented, people will start going after our cattle because some of these people don’t understand the law.
“The law is against the fundamental human rights of our members. So we want human face to it. We have met with the Governor over this and he promised to ensure the law protects the pastoralist and the farmers but that is not the case. As soon as the law is implemented other neighbouring states will want to do the same and this will cause problem for our members.
“So we want the National Assembly and the President to enact a law that will solve this problem once and for all. During the public hearing we were not also invited to have our input.”
In his remarks, Akase said the law was signed May 2nd, 2017 but the Governor decided to suspend its implantation until November 1, 2017.
He added that six pilot ranches are being established as part of measures to create sustainable solutions on the crisis.
“The implementation of the law has to commence. It is definite,’ he said.
According to him, the law was not out to witch-hunt anybody, stressing that public announcement was made repeatedly in the three senatorial zones in the state.
“The bill was initiated and discussed in the State Assembly, so enough time was given,” Akase added.