Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Wednesday, said that he had received threats from suspected Fulani herdsmen over the anti-grazing law enacted by his administration.
Ortom stated this when he addressed the members of the National Council of Tiv Youths, who protested to the Government House, Makurdi, over what they described as unguided utterances by the leadership of Fulani herdsmen against the Tiv nation.
The governor, who said he would not be intimidated by the threats coming from the Fulani, maintained that the law had come to stay and that the full implementation of the law would commence by November at the latest.
Ortom had, a few weeks ago, assented to the anti-open grazing bill passed by the state assembly, which prohibited open grazing of livestock.
The law provides that anyone, who engages in open grazing in Benue State, will, upon conviction, be liable to five-year imprisonment.
It also provides monetary compensation to victims whose farms or properties are damaged by cattle.
Also, a two-year imprisonment awaits anyone whose cattle inflict injury on anyone in the state.
The governor said the enactment of the law became imperative following the constant attacks on farmers in the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen, adding that he had the constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and property of residents of his state.
He said, “Just this morning (Wednesday), one Fulani called my wife and asked her to warn me that I am joking with them, but my response when my wife told me this was that, ‘I am not joking, this law has come to stay’.
“I challenge anyone who has a superior solution to the senseless killings of our people other than anti-open grazing law to bring it forward. Before the passage of the bill by the House of Assembly, due process was followed, every nationality living in the state – the Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani and others – was invited for the public hearing.
“Whoever chooses to live in Benue must obey the law of the land; there is no grazing in Benue. I was elected to protect the lives and property of every resident of the state, not to preside over dead people.”
Meanwhile, Ortom has called for the immediate resignation of the Federal Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission in charge of Benue State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, for allegedly abdicating his duties.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Tarhav Agerzua, at a press conference held in Makurdi, said the call was necessitated by a recent high court judgment in the state.
He insisted Tsav should resign his position as a federal commissioner and join politics so that he could face politicians on the political turf.
Tarhav said that Tsav’s conduct so far indicated that he had abdicated his responsibilities and descended into the political arena.
He said, “I am calling on Tsav to honourably resign his appointment with the Public Complaint Commission where he is serving as a commissioner in Benue State because he has been using his office to attack Governor Ortom.
“As an ombudsman, he is expected to be fair on all issues before him, but he has chosen to be partisan; we expect him to resign and join politics.”
The governor’s spokesman disclosed that a state high court presided over by Justice Maurice Ikpambese had ordered Tsav to pay N10m as damages to Mr. Abrahams Kwaghngu, the Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties to Ortom, for libel.
Reacting, Tsav said being a public complaints commissioner notwithstanding, he would continue to criticise corruption, nepotism and injustice.
He said his duty was not to team up with any government to perpetrate injustice.