Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has demanded to know why members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) are still working free while the group has taken responsibility for herdsmen attacks that led to many deaths in the state.
The governor made this known on Monday when President Muhammadu Buhari visited the state on Monday as part of scheduled visits to states battling security challenges including herdsmen attacks.
Recall that herdsmen attacks on Guma and Logo LGAs of the state on New Year’s Day left 73 people dead.
Speaking at press conference as part of the visit, Ortom referred to a press conference earlier in the year where a splinter group, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, threatened to shed more blood if the state did not reverse its anti-open grazing law.
Describing the comment by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as “hate speech”, the Benue state governor demanded an immediate arrest and prosecution of the group’s leaders.
Ortom said, “Your Excellency, as a president that supports the rule of law, you will most certainly be offended by these hate speeches that may have crossed the red line.
“Your Excellency, how can a group claim responsibility for the killings that happened and are going about scot free?
“How can a group make public these inciting and criminal declarations in an organized society and are not arrested by the police?
“Your Excellency, kindly order the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association for carrying out their threats to attack Benue on account of the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law, 2017.”
He said Benue had lost 47 percent of its Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) due to herdsmen attacks and highlighted reasons why open grazing was not favourable.
“We have lost an average of 47 percent of [the states] IGR due to attacks by armed herdsmen in the State. This underscores the problem between herdsmen and farmers.
“It was clear to us that increased population, shrinking arable land, global warming and desertification as well as the need to diversify the economy through farming, all make open grazing unattractive,” he added.