The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has said that 81 herdsmen have been convicted and 3,000 cattle arrested since the commencement of implementation of the state’s anti-open grazing law.
Ortom made the revelation on Saturday while addressing the 2019 Convention of Idoma Association in America taking place in New York.
According to him, the implementation of the law has brought relative peace to the state.
The governor said, “We are implementing our law, and there is relative peace. As at today, we have convicted 81 herdsmen. Some have paid fines; others are still in prison as I talk to you.
“We have gone a step further. Anywhere we see cattle doing open grazing, we go after them. So far, we have arrested over 3,000 cattle.
“The law stipulates that within seven days, owners of such cattle should pay fines and reclaim them. We have been collecting fines from them.’’
He identified ranching as the panacea to the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers across the state.
He disclosed that only four of the 23 local government areas in the state – Otukpo, Konshisha, Ushongo and Vandeikya – were spared of conflict between locals and herdsmen in the last six years.
“As at today, herdsmen have attacked 19 of the 23 local governments in Benue, claiming over 5,000 lives between 2013 and 2018.
“Over 195,000 homes and 30 churches worth billions of Naira were destroyed in the attacks,’’ Ortom lamented.
Meanwhile, the Benue governor has urged indigenes of the state living in America to create a united Benue forum where they can harness ideas to support their home state.
He said the Benue forum would enable the various groups to brainstorm on ways of collaboration which would in turn benefit them better and their home state by extension.
He said he had made a similar call during the Mutual Union of Tiv in America, MUTA Convention a day earlier in Maryland and deemed it necessary to also raise the issue at the Idoma event.
He commended Idoma indigenes in the United States for the unity and cooperation they had exhibited over the years, urging them to continue to be good ambassadors of Nigeria.
Ortom said there was the need for global efforts in tackling the current security challenge in Nigeria.
He restated the determination of his administration to guarantee the safety of Benue people through constant support to security agencies.
The governor also assured delegates to the convention that the achievements recorded in education, agriculture, health and infrastructure in the state would be sustained, promising to do more.
In a paper presentation, the Senator representing Benue South, Senator Abba Moro described the security situation in Nigeria as disturbing, stating that urgent measures were needed to end the spate of violence in parts of the country.
Moro gave assurance that the 9th National Assembly would make laws to ensure the security and general welfare of of Nigerians. He called on Idoma people in the diaspora to play a central role in supporting the economic growth of Zone C and Benue State in general.
Earlier, the President, Idoma Association, USA, Mr Ogbole Abu thanked Governor Ortom and other dignitaries for attending the convention, saying that the event was organised to address the economic and educational challenges facing its members and their people back home.