•VC raises the alarm over deadly grazing
•As Ortom slams Lalong again
From Rose Ejembi; Makurdi; Gyang Bere, Jos
Vice Chancellor of Plateau State University in Bokkos, Prof. Docknan Decent Sheni, has raised the alarmed over deathly grazing of cattle by Fulani herdsmen in the University premises.
Prof. Sheni stated this yesterday during a press briefing at the University in Bokkos explaining that despite the arrest of Fulani herdsmen who carry out aggressive grazing in the university premises, the menace had continued unabated.
“There are security challenges in the university because the institution has not been completely fenced, we have seen several strange persons within the university who constitute threat to lives and properties.
“Our greatest challenge is the aggressive grazing carried out by herdsmen within the premises of the University. Lectures will be going on and cattle will be roaming around, up to the administrative block and this is not pleasant to the system.”
Prof. Sheni revealed that the institution has lost two persons due to insecurity and they are working hard to stop grazing in the University. “We cannot allow that to continue because we don’t know the motive behind that, we have seen how people have been butchered in different part of the country by suspect herdsmen and we don’t want that to happen to any of us.
He lamented that female students have also been harassed by suspected hoodlums who jumped through the fence at night with the intension of raping and causing untold hardship on students.
The VC said the University does not condone activities of cultism and vowed to expel any student found wanting.
He explained that the institution has suffered several executive inferences which constituted a clog on the wheel of development, saying it’s operated for 12 years without accreditation.
Prof. Sheni noted that two set of students who graduated could not be mobilised for National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) due to lack of accreditation of courses by NUC until 2015.
He said the University has recorded tremendous improvement in infrastructure and man power development where it has the capacity to admit 150 students unlike previous years that the admission was restricted to 300 students.
In another development, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has reiterated that the claim by his Plateau State counterpart, Simon Lalong that he was warned against the enactment and implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law was untrue.
Ortom stated this during a meeting between the Federal Government committee on herdsmen and farmers crisis and Benue stakeholders at the Government House in Makurdi.
Ortom who was reacting for the first time after Lalong told State House Correspondents some weeks back that he warned him against promulgating the law but he (Ortom) refused to heed his warning stated that at no time did Lalong warn him against the law.
His words: “At no time did governor Simon Lalong warned me against enacting the law. He said Lalong must mind his business and let me mind my business.
The Governor commended the committee led by the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi for deeming it fit to visit Benue first on a fact finding mission in the task of finding sustainable resolutions to the farmers/herders skirmishes in Nigeria.
He particularly appreciated the committee for choosing Benue state as its first port of call and expressed optimism that the visit would afford the members the opportunity to see things for themselves.
“We choose the path of Peace in a civilized way to tackle the crisis even when Fulani herdsmen are killing our people like chickens. We remain committed to this course in ensuring that we live in peace. We must not accept the total deceit that is going on in the country. The anti-open grazing law started smoothly until Miyetti Allah issued a threat which was actually carried out by them. Therefore, l want to urge the committee to work assiduously to bring justice to Benue.”
On his part, leader of the Federal Government delegation to Benue and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi condemned the killings in Benue and other parts of the country noting that the crisis in Benue state was a delicate one which must be handled with open minds.
Umahi said: “We are here to tell you that we feel your pains because whatever happened in Benue may affect other ethnic groups in country. That is why at the national economic council meetings, the issue of Farmers and herdsmen crisis were discussed extensively after which agreement was reached that a nine man committee be set up to proffer sustainable solutions to the crisis between the farmers and herdsmen,”
The Ebonyi state governor also posited that insinuations in some quarters, especially on the social media, that the Federal Government had directed states to allocate 5000 hectares of land for cattle colonies was not true, stressing that at no time did Federal Government gave such directives.
Umahi who noted that the herdsmen/farmers crises is not just a Benue problem but a national problem, maintained that it was for that reason that in one of their meetings, it was agreed that a sub-committee should be set up to visit the four most affected states including Benue, Taraba, Kaduna and Plateau states to interact with the people and get their submission.
“We have heard the submission of the Benue people and shall also try to hear the submission of the herdsmen so that sustainable solutions can be found to the problem. The herdsmen/farmers crisis is not a Benue problem alone but a national problem which require national attention and solutions. Several persons earlier spoke on the clashes between herders and farmers including; the president general, Mzough U Tiv, Chief Edwin Ujege, Pastor David Ogbole, Justice Benard Hon, Chief Daniel Abomtse among others.
They described the invasion of Benue by the herdsmen as ethnic cleansing and a ploy to annihilate the people and occupy the Benue Valley.
They noted that the issue was not just about grazing but a jihad with a view to conquering the land and move down to the south vowing that no matter the intimidation, the Anti-open grazing law has come to stay.
Ujege who spoke on behalf of Benue socio-cultural groups, said since the crisis started in 2011 in Benue state, over 2000 people had been killed including women and children with property worth about N95bn destroyed. He insisted that the Benue people want peace, protection of lives and properties in accordance with Nigerian constitution, noting that, “Our children no longer go to schools, we have been chased out of our home, markets and schools. We want restructuring, devolution of power and establishment of state police”.
He said Federal government must ensure that the anti- open grazing law enacted by Benue state government work by making sure that lives and properties of Benue people are protected.
He disclosed that before the law was enacted, 14 local government areas of the state were attacked by herdsmen.
Also, Catholic Bishop of Makurdi diocese, Very Rev. Wilfred Anagbe who spoke on behalf of the clergies said that before the law was enacted, several villages in Tiv land, up to Agatu were deserted when the herdsmen launched massive attacks on Benue communities.
“I am happy that the federal government has set up this committee to find solution to these incessant attacks on Farmers. We have changed government, educational curriculum in Nigeria why can’t government insist on ranching. It is only in Nigeria that cows are not ranched but are allowed to freely invade communities including airport runways. If the herdsmen are for grazing, why are they killing people, there is more to grazing. In 1950s, 1960s, Fulani came to settle in our community with their wives and children but the present crops of Fulani now come without their families but with sophisticated weapons,” he noted. Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse expressed concern about the sincerity of the federal government and the committee to find a lasting solution to the crisis stressing that several other reports before this particular one had never been acted upon.
Ayatse who also wondered the motive behind the pre-announcement of the military operation code named Ayem Kpatuma (Operation Cat Race) before its eventual commencement, also expressed the fear that the military operation may be targeted at the Benue people.
“Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state is a member of this committee yet he refused to attend this meeting because he has taken a position. We have no confidence in the military dance because it is belated and had been pre-announced. The military is not coming to rescue the people but to harass our children and youths in our community. Law is made to address mischief therefore we will not bend the law but go extra mile to protect the law.”