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Grazing Crisis: Military Warns Herders In Benue




By Stephen Asaba-ase

The military has vowed to clamp down on herdsmen who are violating the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranch Establishment Law.

According to a press briefing by the Benue State Security Council in Makurdi, Major General Sunday Igbinomwanhia on Wednesday 5th March 2024, said,the Commander of the military as spiked operation, code named Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) and sounded a serious warning on those who violate the Established Laws of Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranching.

Gen. Igbinomwanhia further stated that the action became existential after the end of the two-week ultimatum issued to armed and un-armed herdsmen with their activities in the state, that as already expired two days ago.

He said, “The Governor and members of the Security Council gave the authority to herders to carry out their Open grazing and those that are unlawfully bearing arms should withdraw from the state.

“A committee of Seven-men as being set up by the Security Council and was authorized to put in place arsenals for the implementation of the kinetic approach if herdsmen refused to withdraw.

“While on committee sitting, we received a lot of reports from our officers that a lots of compliance has been made in respect of the withdrawal of the herders, especially those grazing openly and those bearing unlawful arms.

“But that notwithstanding, the state government have taken a decision about this security briefing and that the grace for a non-kinetic approach as elapsed yesterday. And I am assuring you that the security agencies, OPWS, and other security departments operating within the state will carry out the full directive of the state.

“While this ultimatum was on, OPWS also conducted clearance search in places like Kwande LGA, because some hardened criminals invaded the local government and were posing serious threats. OPWS has brought some form of normalcy to that local government.

“For those who refuse to heed to the ultimatum and are still grazing openly, know that the 14 days are over. Anyone who refuses to abide by the law, whatever meet or see, they call for it.”

The Deputy Governor, Dr Sam Ode, as informed the Seven-men committee that was set up to review the disengagement and withdrawal of armed herdsmen from the state, presided by Gen. Igbinomwanhia, had submitted its memo.

He said the commission affirmed that over the passed two weeks, there has been a peaceful disengagement of some herdsmen, when after the security agencies carry out some strategic measures to ensure their withdrawal.

He also reaffirmed that the law was not specifically targeting anybody, “But when you go contrary to the law, no matter your status, the law will take its cause”.

The State Attorney General, Commissioner of Justice and Public Order, Fidelis Mnyim, also corroborated that “there is no space for open grazing in Benue State. There is an extant law prohibiting open grazing, and the law is still in existence.

“The 14-day ultimatum as ended, and the law has its consequences. Its means that if you are rearing cattle in Benue, you should ranch them.

“For those armed bearing herdsmen who have withdrawn, we are greatful to God for you, but for those who have refused to withdraw and bent on staying, good luck. You must take what you want”

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