A Fulani herdsman in Benue state, Mohammed Abdulkadire reportedly committed suicide after he lost 200 of his cows to hunger and lack of water following the implementation of the anti-open grazing law.
According to Garus Gololo, the National Coordinator of Miyietti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Benue State chapter, the 56-year-old herdsman jumped into River Benue in the Logo Local Government Area of Benue State.
It was gathered that Abdulkadire, who had 22 children, cried and jumped into the river out of frustration when he discovered that 200 out of his 500 cows had died where they were camped, while looking for a means to relocate from Benue State.
“The man killed himself simply because there is no place for his cows to graze. He was to relocate to the Awe LGA of Nasarawa State but information got to us that the area was occupied and no herdsman or herdsmen should cross over to the area again.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to intervene to quickly make provision for herdsmen in Benue State before they lose everything they have,” the herdsmen’s leader said.
Gololo lamented that since the commencement of the Benue anti-open grazing law, Fulani herdsmen had lost about 600 cows due to poor feeding and inaccessibility to water, the Punch reports.
The Benue State Government had, on November 1, commenced the implementation of its anti-open grazing law which prompted an exodus of herdsmen to neighbouring states.
But the state government has quickly debunked the news of the herdsman’s suicide describing it as false and mischievous, urging the general public to disregard the report.
According to Tever Akase, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom, the news is a propaganda aimed at getting public sympathy by the herders. In a statement, the state government said:
“We have read in today’s newspaper, the unfounded report credited to one Garus Gololo, who is a member of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Benue State, that a Fulani cattle owner in Logo Local Government Area of the state a few days ago jumped into River Benue over alleged loss of some of his cows.
“In the same report, Gololo raised alarm that Fulani cattle breeders have already lost over 600 cows in Benue State since the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law came into effect on November 1.
“This alarm, is the height of falsehood and one in a series of organised blackmail and propaganda by those who are opposed to the ranching law of Benue State.
“We have contacted the police and other security agencies but there is no confirmation that a Fulani cattle owner jumped into the river in Logo or any other part of Benue state.
“Similarly, there is no confirmation by security agencies that 600 cows owned by Fulanis are missing.”
While urging the public to disregard the report, the Benue state government advised journalists covering Benue State to carry out thorough investigation into sensitive matters of security before publishing their reports, as this will reduce unnecessary tension in the society.
The government reiterated that the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law was enacted to end frequent invasion of Benue communities and killing of innocent people by herdsmen and the law has been accepted locally and internationally as the best route to peace and stability.
“Implementation of the law has so far proven that it is indeed the people’s legislation. We thank Benue people and other Nigerians for the support given the government of the state for the success of the law. The Samuel Ortom administration remains committed to the task of guaranteeing the security of lives and property,” the statement said.