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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Gov Alia’s plan to repeal anti-open grazing law exposed! 

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The Governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia has concluded plans to repeal the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of 2017 and replace it with a law that is meant to accommodate Fulani pastoralists and promote the governor’s agenda of “peaceful coexistence between herdsmen and farmers in the state.”

What is most shocking to us as a pro-democracy group is the clandestine manner Governor Alia is going about his plan to get the law repealed without anyone’s notice to prevent stiff resistance from Benue people.

The Alia administration started by announcing that it will launch a new security outfit at the end of this month (May 2024) but not many people knew the implications of that declaration. Meanwhile, the office of the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Public Order secretly drafted a bill for the creation of “Benue State Civil Protection Guards (Establishment) Law 2024”.

Section 12 of the proposed law clearly states that when the law for the establishment of Civil Protection Guards comes into effect, the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of 2017, as well as the Law Establishing Community Volunteer Guards will stand REPEALED!

But sensing that asking the Benue State House of Assembly to deliberate on a bill that seeks to repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law alone would attract wide condemnations, Governor Alia and his team cleverly drafted 3 other bills and sent the bills to the House of Assembly with which to go and hold public hearings which were held on Thursday, May 23rd in Katsina-Ala for Zone A, Gboko for Zone B and Otukpo for C.

The other three bills are (1) for the establishment of Benue State Youth Development Commission, (2) for the retirement age and enhancement remuneration of Magistrates and Legal Officers in the Ministry of Justice Benue State (3) to Prohibit Harassment and Extortion of money from Investors, Developers and Business Men in Benue State(Popularly called Marching Ground).

But there was also a 4th bill that was not given to the legislators and anyone else before the commencement of the public hearings, though it was among the bills in the files at each of the public hearings! The bill that was not disclosed was the Benue State Civil Protection Guards (Establishment) Law 2024”.

Our representatives at the public hearings in Gboko, Katsina-Ala and Otukpo said that in each of the three public hearings, it as at the very end of deliberations when everyone was tired and wanted to go home that the bill seeking to repeal the anti-open grazing law was suddenly and quickly distributed to the Assembly members, the traditional rulers, representatives of civil society organizations and other members of the public. But there was no time for anyone to even discuss the bill as proceedings at the public hearings were over.

But the aim of Governor Alia and his officials was achieved! It was recorded that the State Civil Protection Guards bill was also approved by each of the public hearings and what is next is for the State House of Assembly to pass it into law.

Arise Benue People! Evil is coming to you! What you are reading here is deeper than you can imagine! The plot is thick! The Alia administration is apparently being influenced by external forces who are bent on taking your lands. The plot is to first repeal the law that Fulanis hate to hear about – the anti-open grazing law! Now that Governor Alia is about to accomplish that assignment, anything can happen after the new law is passed and signed. Remember the agenda is to ensure that Fulani herders are accommodated and there is “peaceful coexistence” in Benue State.

We urge our traditional rulers, civil society groups and all other lovers of Benue State to rise up and resist this evil agenda to give Fulani herders a soft landing in Benue State. All patriotic sons and daughters of the State must rise up and resist the repeal of the ban on open grazing! Governor Alia should rather be told to uphold and fully enforce that law!

This land Benue State does not belong to Fulanis and any attempt to take our lands and give to them is unacceptable and must be rejected!

Amos Uchiv

President, Defenders of Democracy (DoD)

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