Herders leave Benue as anti-grazing law comes into force

As the law banning open-grazing in Benue State takes effect, herders and their family members have started leaving the state in large numbers.
Sources said some of the departing people have become stranded with thousands of their animals around the bank of River Benue.

The zonal leader of the Fulani socio cultural group, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore in charge of North central states, Alhaji Gidado Idris Bebeji told Daily Trust yesterday that the leaders of the group from the state had lamented that the new law had caused an unprecedented exodus of people, some of whose fathers were born in the state.
Also speaking, the Benue State Coordinator of Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Garus Gololo, said his members had started leaving the state following the commencement of the anti-grazing law.
The law became effective yesterday after its enactment by the State House of Assembly and signing by Governor Samuel Ortom in May this year.
Gololo told our correspondent last night that the insistence of the state government to implement the law without provision of ranches and basic amenities to cater for the herders was tantamount to sending herders away.
He denied that any of his members were being manhandled by the Benue people as the law took effect yesterday but expressed worry that their human rights to free movement was being violated as a result of the restriction placed on their animals by the law.
In Nasarawa State, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura had to call on residents of the communities at the state border with Benue state to go about their normal daily businesses as the implementation of the anti-grazing law by the Benue state government takes effect.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Musa Elayo, said Governor Al-Makura was fully aware of the tension at the border communities, stressing that government was determined to ensure adequate security.
Reacting to the controversial anti-grazing law last night, the national leadership of the Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore said the law was confusing.
National President of the association Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo told Daily Trust on telephone that reports that pastoralists were leaving Benue was saddening.
“The state government has been speaking English with nobody caring to properly inform the pastoralists. They (herders) may be leaving the state as being reported because they would not want to be lawless especially against a law they do not understand very well,” Bodejo said.

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