John Dyegh, a lawmaker representing Gboko/Tarka federal constituency at the House of Representatives, has alleged that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Government places more emphasis on the protection of cattle than human lives.
The lawmaker queried why the Federal Government could send out helicopters to survey states where cows were being rustled, but did not do same in Benue where human beings were being killed by Fulani herdsmen.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, Dyegh however, admonished the government to take decisive steps in curbing the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
The lawmaker also claimed that some powerful Nigerians were frustrating the passage of the bill prohibiting open grazing which is pending before the National Assembly. Hear him:
“Recently, government sent out helicopters to survey states where cow are being rustled, but they did not do so in Benue where humans are being killed.
“It clearly shows that we have a government that places more emphasis on animals more than humans. Government must tackle this issue with all seriousness before it gets out of hand.”
In a related development, protesters stormed the Benue State Government House, Makurdi on Monday, demanding a quick passage of the anti-grazing executive bill by the Benue House of Assembly.
According to reports, the protests lasted for hours and were coordinated by some Non-Governmental Organisations. The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions some of which read: “we want a quick passage of the anti-grazing bill”, “President Buhari please do more to end the farmers/herdsmen clashes”, among others.
Leader of the protest, Mr Justine Gbagir, who is the Chairman, Justice Rights Human Initiative, appealed to the state government to adopt measures aimed at preventing future attacks in the state.
Gbagir said that the early passage of the bill would check the intermittent clashes between farmers and herdsmen. He also called for stringent measures to secure the rural areas from invaders, and promised full support to initiatives that would bring permanent peace to Benue.
“We want the Federal Government to replicate the measures used in tackling insurgency in the north-eastern parts of the country in the fight against herdsmen attacks,” he said.
Gbagir alleged that the invaders had raped women and attacked farmers after destroying their crops, and expressed fear of food shortages if the situation was not checked. He, therefore, urged the legislators to pass the executive bill without altering its content so as to safeguard human lives.
In response to their agitations, Gov. Samuel Ortom expressed optimism that the legislators would respond promptly to the yearnings of the people by passing the bill.
Represented by his deputy, Mr Benson Abounu, Gov. Ortom promised that government would do everything within its powers to protect the people.
The anti-grazing bill, presented to the Benue House of Assembly by Ortom last week, seeks to end open grazing which the governor said was responsible for the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen. The bill recommends the establishment of cattle ranches to check the movement of cattle in search of grazing fields.