I warned Ortom against anti-grazing law – Governor Lalong

Dawn-to-dusk curfew imposed on Jos following rumored ethnic clashes

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State said he cautioned Governor Samuel Ortom against going ahead with the anti-open grazing law in Benue State.

Lalong recalled telling Governor Ortom not to implement the law.

The governor made this known while speaking with the State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to the governor, it is wrong for Benue State government to have gone ahead with the enforcement of the anti-grazing law without providing an alternative for the cattle breeders in the state.

He explained that Plateau State which once was a hotbed of herdsmen and farmers clashes, has been enjoying peace, because his administration bring all the major stakeholders together.

Governor Lalong said he backed the proposed cattle colony project that is being planned by the federal government to discourage movement of cattle across the farmland nationwide.

He said, “To be honest with you, I spoke with Ortom on anti grazing law. I told the governor of Benue when he was doing the law, I said look, why don’t you tread softly, just be careful, take other steps before you start implementation.

“But you see states are different, his concepts are different and for us on the Plateau they are different. I said I will not do the law before implementation. I have not developed the ranching areas so I cannot go and say I put a law, to stop who? If I stop the people what is the alternative?

“At the end of last year, something happened but I’m not saying it was between herdsmen and farmers, it was as result of criminal activities and so we focused on fishing out those criminals. Most of the crisis that happened was not on the farm, it was just pockets of Christians and Muslims killing one another and so we addressed those issues, we are handling it.

“Let me also say that Plateau was one of those that embraced ranching. I had a lot of opposition initially when I said Plateau was keying into ranching. Some states said they don’t have land but I said whether I have land or not we have to provide land for ranching because that I see as solution to the conflicts. In Plateau we have gone far, we have donated land voluntarily, many people donated land for ranching.

“Last year, I sent a team of 12 to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, they spent almost a week there to study and the team was headed by former Vice Chancellor of University of Jos, Prof. Onazi. We went round all the communities in Plateau, it took three months and Plateau people including the Fulanis accepted that we must embrace ranching.

“Secondly, I can’t implement anti-grazing law. There are levels of implementation which will require government intervention, provision of ranchers and thirdly, when you are talking of ranching it is a component of agriculture business you will also require subsidy. Subsidy must come from federal and state governments and by the time we develop it and put every structure on ground, then we can bring laws to regulate the implementation. So I don’t want to jump one step before the other.”

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