Benue Killings: Massive condemnation trails FG’s planned Ruga Settlements

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Nigerian Concord Newspaper

Massive condemnation has trailed the proposed FG Ruga Settlements for Fulani herders in Nigeria especially Benue state where thousands of people had been killed by the fulani insurgents.

Apart from the protests which were embarked upon by various groups in Benue state yesterday, the Tiv community in the United Kingdom as well as Akpa/Otobi community have risen up to criticize the federal government over its plans to hijack Benue lands for fulani herdsmen illegally.

In a reacion, Dr Kohol Iornem, the President of the Mutual Union of Tiv in the United Kingdom, warned that it was a misplaced priority by the federal government to think of Ruga settlements for the fulani people in Benue state.

The Tiv Union said the idea is not timely, considering that there are thousands of Benue sons, daughters and aged parents living at IDP camps in deplorable conditions without any effort to relocate them to a safer and more conducive environment. “Ironically, the issue of herdsmen is taking more prominence” the Union added in a statement obtained by Nigerian Concord.

The group warned that this imposition by the Federal Government without dialogue with the State Government has already started causing tension in polity.

The statement reads in parts: “The situation is like a married man who brings a good looking maid to the house without the consent of the wife. No sane wife will allow that, lest the good-looking maid over time, takes over the household. This is the exact picture of what the Federal Government is doing”

“We urge our people to be law abiding and seek intervention through the Judiciary and National Assembly before the matter gets out of hand. However, the Federal Government must as a matter of urgency, engage with the State Government to explain the nature of the land holding and how it fits with the extant Grazing Law in the State”

Also, the people of Akpa/Otobi community yesterday rose in protest against plans by the Federal Government to impose RUGA SETTLEMENT for Herdsmen in their community, insisting they have no land for Cattle grazing.

The people who came out in their numbers bearing placards with various inscription, chanting protest songs called on the Federal Government to rescind the decision to give their land to Herdsmen in the interest of peace, saying they are farmers.

One of the protesters who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We are peasant farmers and we can’t grow our crops with cattle. We are calling on Government to rethink this move”

Also speaking, the Acting District head Akpa Otobi, Chief Ochinya Ofeka, said: “We gave lands to Federal Government for dam, Research Center and for school of Health Science. But we don’t have for open grazing in whatever name or form”

As parts of their protest, the protesters also handed a protest letter to the Caretaker Chairman of Otukpo Local Government, Rt. Hon. George Alli, who drove to address the scene in company of the Council Vice Chairman, Hon. Abraham Adakonye, Chief of Staff, Hon. Igoche Ajaka and other Council members.

In his speech, Hon. Alli appealed for calm, urging them not to take laws into their own hands. He said: “First of all I want to thank you all for your peaceful approach towards this matter. I urge you all to stay calm, your concerns will be addressed.”

Speaking further Alli said: “The Nigerian Constitution is very clear on the land use act. The ownership of all lands within any state in the Federation is vested in the state Government.

“And like His Excellency the Executive Governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom said, Benue is in full support of Ranching, but we are against open grazing under any nomenclature, weather cattle colony or RUGA Settlement”. Alli promise to deliver their letter to the state Governor.