The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has condemned the killings carried out by suspected herdsmen in Benue State, describing the attackers as enemies of the society.
The body’s pronouncement came as the Benue State governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, insisted that there would be no going back on the state’s Anti-Open Grazing Law.
Speaking on behalf of a ten-member ACF delegation during a visit to the Governor Ortom’s office in Makurdi yesterday, the Vice Chairman of ACF’s Board of Trustees, Senator John Shagaya, emphasised the body’s commitment to all northern states’ peace, unity and development.
Shagaya said: “It is with heavy heart and sadness that I lead a delegation of ACF to condole (commiserate with) you and the people of Benue State over the unfortunate killing of innocent souls by some suspected herdsmen in Benue State in the last few weeks.
“The incessant attacks by the suspected criminals, which is wicked, barbaric and callous, are acts that must be condemned by peace-loving people of Nigeria.
“We in the ACF feel pained that human life is wasted with such impunity by rampaging killers whose activities are not limited to Benue State but other states of the federation.
“It is most unfortunate.”
According to Shagaya, a retired general, the ACF feels deeply concerned that the wanton killings and destruction of farmlands has been occurring in several northern states such Adamawa, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Zamfara and the South East.
He expressed the ACF’s delight with the presidential order that the Inspector-General of Police should relocate to Benue State while the army has also increased its surveillance efforts in the state.
“Your Excellency, our delegation strongly encourages you and your government to continue the constructive engagement with the Federal Government, Northern Governors’ Forum, security agencies and peace-loving Nigerians to find a lasting solution to getting rid of undesirable elements in our society,” he added.
In his response, Governor Ortom reiterated his confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s transparent and complete support for him, security agencies and the people of Benue State.
“There were killings up till January 9, but in the past three days, there has been no killing. Instead, there has been relative peace since the Inspector-General of Police arrived,” Ortom stated, commending the Army, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Commission (NSCDC) and other security agencies for doing a great job.
Stressing that reaction to the law banning open grazing could not have been the sole cause of the problem, the governor said there would be no going back on its implementation because it was seriously demanded by the people.
He said: “The law was passed in the interests of both farmers and herdsmen as it firmly protects them from the hazards of cattle-rustling which became an offence with life imprisonment.
“It was not meant to target any ethnic group or Fulani. There is no available land for grazing and the law is a necessity.”
Expressing deep appreciation of President Buhari’s support, he expressed shock that Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, could attribute to him statements about a conversation that never happened.
“He (Lalong) told me that he did not say those things. But later when I watched him on television making the allegation, I called him on the telephone and he did not pick. But I have forgiven everybody,” Ortom said.
The post ACF condemns bloodshed in Benue appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.
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Author: Jide BABALOLA, Assistant Editor, Abuja