Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State says the state government has no land for the establishment of cattle colony as being advocated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Speaking while addressing State House correspondents after he led a delegation of Benue State stakeholders to a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday, Governor Ortom said that cattle ranching remained the only way out of the crisis.
He explained that though the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, had explained to him the meaning of cattle colony and its relevance in addressing security challenges occasioned by farmers/herdsmen conflicts, cattle ranching remained the only option to avoid conflicts.
“The Minister of Agriculture happens to be a son of the soil; there are many options that are put on the table. Like I told you the last time I came here I did not understand what colony was.
“Today I was privileged to sit with him and he did explain to me that a colony is about many ranches restricted in one place where the land is.
“So for us in Benue State there is no 10 hectares, they are looking for 5,000 hectares. For us in Benue State we have no 10 hectares to allow that kind of thing to take place.
“So people are free. Other states have the land, we in Benue State do not have and that was what led to us enacting this law.’’
The governor dismissed the insinuation that the state government had engaged the services of militias to safeguard lives and property in the state, saying the allegation was a mere attempt to divert attention and turn facts away from realities on ground.
According to him, the militias arrested by soldiers in some parts of Taraba State have no connection whatsoever with Benue State government.
He, however, disclosed that the state government was in the process of employing volunteers to serve as members of the state’s vigilante group to ensure smooth implementation of the anti-grazing law.
He described the meeting between President Buhari and leadership of the state, as fruitful.
He said the president had reiterated the determination of his administration to safeguard lives and property of all citizens across the country.
The meeting was an aftermath of the recent violent attacks on communities in the state by gunmen.