May 20, 2024

Benue State Governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Ali has said that the 14-day ultimatum given to herdsmen who are engaged in open grazing has elapsed.

He declared that now is time for the full implementation of the anti-open grazing law by security agencies in the state.

The governor announced this on Wednesday at a press briefing held at the Old Banquet Hall of Government House, Makurdi.

Gov Alia, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Sam Ode, disclosed that the State Security Council took the decision following the large influx of herders into the state.

He said that in the course of the 14-day ultimatum, the security council had monitored the activities of the armed herdsmen and studied the report of a 7-man committee, headed by the Force Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke in the state.

Ode expressed the council’s satisfaction in the report, emphasizing that the law was not targeted at any particular group of persons.

The government, however, warned that anyone who was in contravention of the law, regardless of whoever, would be prosecuted, disclosing that over the last 2 weeks, there had been a peaceful withdrawal of most of the herders in the state.

Also in his remarks, the Commissioner of Justice and Public Order, Barr. Fidelis Mnyim explained that whoever wanted to rear cattle in the state must ranch their cattle as the anti open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law of 2017 was still in force in the state, and anyone caught in the act of open grazing would face the full wrath of the law.

Also, the Force Commander of Operation Whirlstroke (OPWS), Major General Sunday Igbinomwanhia, disclosed that a 7-man committee was set up by the Benue State Security Council to work out modalities to implement the ultimatum for the withdrawal of armed herdsmen in the state, a process he termed as a non-kinetic approach to resolving conflicts.

Gen Igbinomwanhia expressed satisfaction that great compliance had been made by the withdrawal of most of the herders and assured that Operation Whirlstroke and all security agencies operating within the state would implement the full directive of the State government.

He also disclosed that Operation Whirlstroke had conducted some clearance operations in Kwande local government, where some specific criminals had invaded the local government.

On the recent crisis in Ukum local government, he explained that it was a clash between two militia groups in the area over unknown reasons, which resulted in the death of 30 of the militia men on both sides, stressing that it wasn’t an attack on any of the communities as alleged.

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