Fulani cattle herdsmen finally agree to abide by provisions of Benue Open Grazing Prohibition Law

FULANI cattle herdsmen in Benue State have agreed to lay down their arms and abide by the provisions of the Benue Open Grazing Prohibition Law recently enacted by the state government in a bid to end the ongoing feuding and bloodshed in the area.


Over recent years, Nigeria has been plagued with the menace of heavily armed Fulani cattle herdsmen attacking local farming communities as disputes over grazing rights have led to clashes. In response to farmers objecting to livestock destroying their crops, the herdsmen, equipped with AK47s have been known to lay waste to villages, leaving hundreds dead.


In a bid to seek a solution to the problem, the Benue State government passed the Benue Open Grazing Prohibition Bill but some herdsmen refused to accept it and went on a rampage in protest. Following the rise in the death toll, the National Economic Committee (NEC) established a 10-man committee to look into the crisis and come up with solutions.


Yesterday, the NEC committee met with herdsmen and stakeholders in the sector where it put forward proposals it had come up with. After the meeting, the herdsmen accepted the principle of the new grazing law but asked for more time to help them adapt to the policy as well as resort to using the grazing reserves already developed in the northern parts of the country.


Ebonyi State's Governor Dave Umahi, who chairs the committee, said the team had successful meetings with all the parties in Benue and Nasarawa states. He added that some key decisions were reached at the end of the mediation talks.


Governor Umahi said: “We observed that all the parties are willing to make peace and we are looking at the conditions and suggestions of the various groups handed over to us as the way forward to having peace. From discussions, it was agreed by the parties that Benue State have the right to make laws and that individuals or groups of people that are in the state have a duty to obey the law.


 “They also have a duty to meet with the authorities of the law to dialogue on any section of the law that they believe will not favour them. We have agreed, from all parties to this unfortunate matter, that we will pursue peace, disarm any group that is harbouring militia and support the security chiefs to arrest anyone found with illegal weapons."


He added that security operatives have also promised that in line with the directive they have been given, anybody with illegal weapons will be arrested, no matter who the person is. Governor Umahi added that it was cheering news to note that the herdsmen in Benue and Nasarawa states are willing to abide by the Open Grazing Prohibition Law.