The National Executive Council (NEC) yesterday approved the recommendation of its sub-committee that open grazing of cattle be banned across the country.
The three-man sub-committee on herdsmen/farmers clashes constituted by the government in February 2018 was headed by the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi.
It was specifically mandated to unravel the causes of herdsmen/farmers clashes and dialogue with relevant stakeholders to end the killings of innocent citizens.
Other members of the sub-committee included Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), and Bindo Jubrilla (Adamawa). The panel was mandated to visit Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and Adamawa states.
Umahi told State House correspondents after the NEC meeting at the Presidential Villa presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday, that the panel submitted its report to the council which okayed the recommendation to ban open grazing, opting for the establishment of ranches in states affected by the herdsmen onslaught.
He said NEC blamed the incessant killings by herdsmen on perception and reports by the media.
“The core causes of the conflicts, we were made to understand, were perception and of course our media friends, competition for scarce resources and banditry or what you can call pure criminal activities through cattle rustling and kidnapping.”
Governor Umahi, who said his team visited five states Benue, Taraba, Plateau Adamawa and Zamfara, told newsmen that there were three main categories of herdsmen in Nigeria. These, according to him, are foreign herdsmen, nomadic herdsmen and migrant herdsmen whose continued activities have resulted in clashes with farmers.
He said the NEC also agreed that the states affected by herdsmen killings donate land for the establishment of ranches that will include nomadic schools and health facilities for their family members.
“Niger and Kaduna have given lands, and Plateau is also giving land. We also agreed that through the agriculture ministry, we have to introduce new species of cows.”
Umahi said the council members accepted the recommendation to stop the further influx of foreign herdsmen into the country.
Even in their hiding places, residents of Benue State are not safe as militia Fulani herdsmen yesterday invaded an unofficial internally displaced persons camp at the African Church in Mbamondo clan of Ukemberagya Gaambe-Tiev, Logo Local Government Area and murdered seven persons.
The attack came less than 24 hours after the herdsmen attacked some villages in Guma and Gwer West local government areas, leaving no fewer than 43 villagers dead.
The Guardian learnt that the herdsmen arrived in Mondo settlement about 12:22 a.m. and started shooting sporadically at the displaced persons who were asleep in the church and the primary school buildings on the church premises.
His words: “Though seven bodies have been recovered so far, we are yet to ascertain the total number of casualties. The marauders, after they killed the people and sacked the entire village, proceeded to Zaki Biam/ Wukari road, mounted roadblocks and began to collect motorcycles and other valuables from travellers.
“As I speak with you, they are still there, but we are yet to see or hear that security personnel have gone there.”
The chairman of Logo LGA, Richard Nyajor, who confirmed the incident, said: “The casualties may be many, but so far, we have recovered about seven bodies and we are still searching for more. These killers have taken over our entire area, we are now leaving at the mercy of God.
Efforts to get police confirmation of the incident failed as the Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni and the command’s Public Relations Officer, Moses Yamu did not pick calls put through to them.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari, said the governors had been working assiduously with the Federal Government to tackle the lingering security challenges across the country.
Yari disclosed this to newsmen yesterday morning at the end of a closed-door meeting of the NGF held at its headquarters in Abuja.
The NGF meeting, the third of its type this year, was convened to address critical issues facing the governors and their states in relation with the Federal Government.
Yari described the security challenge facing the Nigeria as a global phenomenon, which governments all over the world are striving to subdue.
Angered by the deteriorating security situation in Benue State, the House of Assembly has summoned Governor Samuel Ortom to brief the lawmakers on actions being taken by the state security council to end the killings.
Ortom is to appear in plenary next Wednesday for the interface. The House also resolved to suspend plenary for one week in solidarity with the victims of the attacks.
Meanwhile, the ravaged Tiv and the rampaging Fulani in Nasarawa State have agreed to end the killings in the southern senatorial zone. The agreement was signed by Joint Peace Committee of Tiv and Fulani yesterday in Lafia.
The chairman of Miyetty Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Nasarawa chapter, while addressing the gathering said the meeting was aimed at bringing an end to the killings.
According to him, as the two groups have agreed to live in peace with each other in their communities, they do not need any security to enforce any peace.
He warned the Fulani people in the state not to take the laws into their hands but report any provocative act to their leaders for onward action.
Similarly, the President of Tiv Development Association (TDA) in the state, Boniface Ifer, said his kinsmen were willing to live in peace with the Fulani. He lamented that the Fulani were transferring aggression over the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in Benue State to them in Nasarawa.
The event was attended by representatives of Tiv and Fulani leaders from Awe, Obi, Doma, Keana and Lafia local government areas.
Also yesterday, the Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh asked Nigerians to demand the fulfillment of their security contract with the Federal Government.