Sunday Ode, Abuja
Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom , said Monday that the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017, simply known as anti grazing law, was yielding desired results.
He said the enforcement of the law had brought relative peace to the state especially with respect to the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
The governor made this assertion while fielding questions from State House Correspondents, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja after he had met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed-doors.
Ortom further explained that a total of 400 people had been arrested for violating the law out of which, 50 had been convicted.
According to the Benue State governor, about 2,000 cows had also been seized from herders for contravening the provisions of the law, saying that they would only be released after the owners had paid the stipulated fines.
The governor said: ”the place is relatively peaceful. The law is being implemented and we have arrested 400 people irrespective of their ethnic background, whether Fulani, Igbos, Yoruba, Tiv, Idoma and we have convicted 50 people for contravening various offenses and we have seized more than 2,000 cattle. But we have ensured no one has molested any cattle, nor killing any cattle.
”Once you cattle is seized for open grazing by the livestock guard, within seven years when your cattle is quarantined if you don’t come to pay fines and redeem your cattle we auction them. So far, everyone that we have arrested people have come to redeemed and so we have not had any cause to auction any cattle.”
Governor Ortom equally noted that “The law is still in force in Benue State and we are implementing it. Everyone is free to establish ranch, we are not targeting any individual or group. Anyone who wants to do cattle business should come to Benue and ranch, that we have land for it but for open grazing we have no land.”
Commenting on a recent report that 17 states in the country including Benue were insolvent as their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in 2018 were far below 10 per cent of total receipts from the Federation Account Allocations (FAA) in the same year, the governor said plans were afoot to address the crisis of revenues shortfall by his administration.
”The plan is to look inward and see how we can generate more funds, improve on our IGR, lock some leakages and see how we can cut down cost of governance.
”One thing is that I believe in dialogue and I am very transparent with my finances, they are for everyone to see. I have been very cordial with workers in Benue State,” he said.
Ortom said left for him, workers should even earn more than N30,000 if the resources were available.
”They deserve it, we go to the same market and so we know the cost of living and other things are involved. The challenge is whether the resources will be there. I believe that we will look for ways and I believe it is not only Benue State, there are about 17 states…all together maybe at governors forum, there will be away to get out of it, ” the governor noted.
The Economic Confidential in its Annual States Viability Index (ASVI) for 2018, showed that 17 states of the 36 states are insolvent as their IGR in 2018 were far below 10 per cent of their receipts from the Federation Account Allocations (FAAC) in the same year.
The index computed by the report revealed that without the monthly disbursement from Federal Accounts Allocation Commission, many of the states remained unviable and cannot survive without the federally distributed handouts largely from the oil sector.
The IGRs are generated by states through Pay-As-You-Earn Tax (PAYE), direct assessment, road taxes and revenues from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
According to the report, the IGR of the 36 states of the federation totalled N1.1 trillion in 2018 as compared to N931 billion in 2017, an increase of N172 billion.
Speaking further, governor Ortom said since Nigeria is a federation, there must be synergy between states and the federal government to be able to surmount the security challenges, to be able to save lives and properties.
Shedding light on the security situation on the Katsina Ala road in Benue State, the governor said, all the stakeholders in the state are willing to corporate to tackle the insecurity.
According to him, the security situation in Benue had been compounded by ”one notorious criminal “Gana,” who was trained by Boko Haram and had continued to terrorize the state .
“He is the one instrumental to the Kidnappings happening between Benue and Taraba State. All forms of criminality – armed robbery, assassinations and so on. The community too have given up because as at today, the three local governments of Katsina Ala, Logo and Ukum are not safe.
”No educational, farming, commercial activities are going on, the Igbos that are major traders have vacated. With operation Wierd Stroke we are going to move against them and we believe we will be able to surmount them, ” Ortom stressed.
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