Executive governor of Benue State Samuel Ortom, has urged the Federal Government to intervene in the roaming herdsmen vs resident community clashes which has claimed over 1000 lives in the state in 2016 alone.
Speaking to Ibanga Isine in an interview on Sunday, Ortom said:
“I commend you for coming here to let the world know about what is happening in Benue State. I have said that Benue State is under a siege. We are completely under siege by Fulani herdsmen.
“We’ve heard the herdsmen accusing our people of killing their cattle which is not true. But even if it were true, does that give them the right to go about killing innocent people? Two wrongs can’t make a right. We have been telling our people that there is no need going after Fulanis or their cattle. We are farmers and very enterprising.
“There is no way a herdsman will come into Benue without encroaching on somebody’s farm. There is no way grazing and farming can go together.
“We have been appealing to them and we have given them (security agents) all the support they need to restore peace and order. But it is unfortunate that up till today, there is no time the security men came and told me that one arrest has been made.No herdsman or their militia has been arrested.
“I cannot understand how we could live in a country and people come in to invade others. They go about it freely and there is no sanction against them. The level of impunity exhibited by the herdsmen is very worrisome.
“I know that the herdsmen need help and we need to educate them and give them an enabling environment to tend their cattle. I have always said that the way out of the problem is through ranching. That is what is done globally. Our population is overgrown and human activities have escalated and the only way we can breed cattle in our society is when we learn to ranch.
“The result is that most of our people can no longer go to their farms. They are being killed but the most unfortunate thing is that these people who are being killed and displaced in their various localities are not involved in cattle rustling. We know that cattle rustling is done by Fulani herdsmen and some criminal elements in our society.
“These are people who do not have respect for life or the rule of law and should be treated as criminals. But unfortunately, when cattle rustlers come in a particular settlement, the militia of the Fulani herdsmen will come after innocent locals. They don’t ever go after the rustlers. They rather go against people who are in those communities. Most times, the rustled cattle are taken to other parts of the country and not kept within the immediate vicinity. It is a big challenge.
“We have made appeals to the federal government and we appreciate Mr. President who graciously approved that the military, the police and civil defence should always be there to help our people. Despite that, the crisis has persisted.”
Dearies, for the full version of the interview, kindly refer to Premium Times.