From Uche Nnorum Makurdi
Following the commencement of implementation of the anti-grazing law by Benue state government, over 2000 Benue women across the 23 local government areas of the state yesterday stormed the Government House in Makurdi to demonstrate their solidarity with Governor Samuel Ortom.
The women, old and young, some of whom were half naked including faith-based organizations, walked through the streets of Makurdi chanting solidarity songs to express their happiness and support for the governor’s stance of the newly implemented law.
They carried placards some of which read, “respect anti open grazing law. Governor Samuel Ortom, ahead ahead,” “We support anti-Open Grazing Law among others, and were led to the seat of power amidst very tight security.
The governor who personally received the women alongside his wife, Eunice and other top government officials thanked them for the understanding with the government on the implementation of the law, stressing that the law was a win-win for everyone.
Ortom who reiterated that there was no more vacant land in Benue State for grazing, said the population of Benue has tremendously increased from about one million in the 50s to about eight(8) million presently, adding that farming and ranching cannot co – exist on the same land.
“We love everyone resident in Benue including the Fulanis but we cannot continue to live with killers who have no respect for human lives. This law is for the benefit of everybody as it would encourage economic activities as well as encourage the Fulanis to stay in one place and ranch their cows among other benefits.”
“Those who wants to stay in Benue would be given enabling environment to carry out their businesses lawfully but those who don’t want the law can quietly exit the state without rancour and we assure them that security would be provided to them to do so.
The governor however urged Benue people especially the youths to be law abiding and not take laws into their hands by attacking either Fulanis or their cattle, stressing that any infringement should be reported to the appropriate authority.
Also speaking, the wife of the Governor, Dr. (Mrs.) Eunice Ortom thanked the women for keeping faith with her husband’s administration, stressing that the security of the state is paramount.
Mrs. Ortom stated that she was so overwhelmed when she heard that women from all parts of the state in collaboration with faith based organizations were coming to demonstrate in support of the newly implemented law, positing that this had greatly encouraged them.
Spokespersons from the Tiv, Idoma and Igede areas of the state expressed happiness with the new law, maintaining that they can now go to their farms without any fear even as they prayed that the law should catch up with anyone who goes against it.