Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has challenged the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali to explain to Nigerians why there were killings in his home state of Zamfara, even though the state has not enacted the Anti-Open grazing law.
He also said the state had lost over N400 billion worth of property to renewed militia herdsmen attacks on Benue communities since his election as governor in 2015, three years ago.
Ortom who said he had no regrets for enacting the law in Benue however commended states like Ekiti, Taraba and Abia that have enacted the law, adding that it was the right way to go.
He made this known during an interactive session with journalists on the achievements and challenges of his administration in the past three years, at Government House, Makurdi on Tuesday.
Ortom who stated that the estimate of N400 billion was arrived at in a preliminary report of assessment of damages caused by the crisis in the last three years, stressed that the loss was much and difficult to recover from.
The governor vowed that the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 was the people’s legislation and that no amount of intimidation and blackmail would make it repeal the law.
While noting that he had no regret to the enactment and implementation of the law, he pointed out that the people of the state trusted him hence he was doing the will of the people.
He said, “I have no regret. Why should I have any regret doing the will of my people? They trusted me and gave me their votes and I will not betray what they want. I’m doing what they want and I’ve no regret.”
The governor also commended his colleagues from Ekiti, Taraba and Abia states for keying into the ranching law, saying it was the right way to go.
Ortom called on Nigerians with a better alternative to findng a lasting solution to the farmers/herders crisis in the country to bring it on the table.
He further challenged the Minister of Defence Minister, Masur Dan-Ali, to tell Nigerians why there were killings in Zamfara, his home state, and other states of Nigeria like Kaduna, Adamawa, Plateau, Enugu, Kogi, among others, where there was no anti-open grazing law.
The governor said he was waiting for the minister to come out and apologise to Nigerians on his comments to President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the law in states the have implemented the law, which he said was responsible for the killings in Benue.
He lamented that he came in with a clear vision to industrialise the state but the herdsmen crisis had taken an enormous toll on his administration with 18 out of the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state currently under siege by herdsmen.
Ortom however noted that partnership with development partners, donor agencies among others through payment of counterpart funds had yielded great results for the state in the areas of education, health and water supply, insisting that the result would have been better with guaranteed security.
He further said arrangements were in place to pay arrears of salaries and pensions to workers both at the state and local government levels who were being owed for several months