Stakeholders in Benue on Monday agreed to begin the implementation of the 2017 Anti-Open Grazing Law in November.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the law, which was signed by Governor Samuel Ortom in June, gave herdsmen a deadline of October to end open grazing and replace same with ranching from November 1.
The stakeholders formally endorsed the deadline at the expanded State Security Council meeting held at the Benue People’s House, Makurdi.
The stakeholders advised the government to step up enlightenment ahead of the deadline, in view of the importance of the law.
They also agreed that the law was not targeted at any tribe or group of persons, and urged all Benue residents to support it.
NAN quotes Mr. Ortom as explaining that the expanded security meeting was to enlighten all stakeholders about the law and how it would be implemented.
Mr. Ortom further said that ranching was the best system of cattle rearing the world over, stressing that his administration was willing to support herdsmen or people willing to stay in Benue and ranch their cows.
He denied reports that government had given quit notice to herdsmen in Benue, explaining that they were free to remain in Benue “so long as they obey the law”.
“The law does not provide that herdsmen should leave Benue; it only encourages herdsmen and any other individual, who wishes to rear livestock, to do so within ranches so as to minimise clashes between herdsmen and farmers.”
Speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers, James Ayatse, the Tor Tiv and Chairman, Benue State Council of Chiefs, commended the government for the steps so far taken toward implementing the law.
Mr. Ayatse, who was represented by Tor Kwande, Ambrose Iortyer, urged herdsmen to embrace change as ranching was the best option worldwide.
In his remarks, the Benue Coordinator of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, Garus Gololo, said that his members were law-abiding citizens ready to support the anti-open grazing law.
Mr. Gololo said that his association was not behind the suit against the Benue Government over the law, explaining that Miyetti Allah Kautal Kohe leadership were behind the court action.
Benue, as well as a few other states, over the years, have been rocked by perennial clashes between herdsmen and farmers over usage of land leading to bloodletting and destruction of property.