By Ese Awhotu
The Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have urged the Federal Government to immediately implement ranching policy as a panacea to herders and farmers clashes in Benue State.
The Bebue State chapters of JNI and CAN spoke in a town hall meetings organised by the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) with the support of the Vienna-based KAICIID Dialogue Centre.
The meetings which took place at the weekend in Gboko, Oturkpo and Makurdi was attended by officials of JNI and CAN in the state.
The Secretary of JNI, Alhaji Baba Ahmed in his submission, called on the Federal Government to pursue the idea of ranching policy by quickly providing facilities at the designated ranches.
“I think the best way of tackling the problem is the provision of ranches for herdsmen to avoid the incessant clashes between herders and farmers. Facilities and security should also be provided so that the problem can be tackled once and all,” the state JNI scribe noted.
Also speaking, the CAN Chairman, Rev Akpen Leva, who was represented by Bishop Mike Angou, called on the people to respect laws, just as he pleaded with government at all tiers to ensure justice for people.
“Muslims and Christians do not have a problem in Benue state. What is seriously giving us cause for concern is the constant clashes between herders and farmers that have led to killings. Government should please security agencies to rein in those who are troubling and killing people in the state,” he said.
At Uturkpo, a Fulani herder, Alhaji Garba, said greed and selfishness is responsible for the clashes and called on people to exercise restraint and embrace forgiveness. Having been born in Otukpo, he said he has no any other place he can call a home. Alhaji said that if people were to emphasise on their humanity, then, the crisis can be resolved.
Various speakers at both meetings called on government to look into the illegal use of illicit substances by youths, saying lack of employment opportunities should be tackled to give hope to youths that are despairing to realise their potentials.
Head of the IDFP advocacy team to the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Yahaya, thanked speakers at the various town hall meetings and said all suggestions from groups and individuals will assist in the compilation of the final report by the forum.
Nigeria’s Country Expert for KAICIID Dialogue Centre, Joseph Atang, expressed appreciation for those who found time to attend, stressing that the Vienna-based organisation will continue to support IDFP to promote peace and dialogue in resolving crisis.