Ortom meets Buhari, rejects cattle colonies

Benue State Governor Sam Ortom on Tuesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari and rejected the Federal Government’s plan to establish cattle colonies in the state.

The governor visited the president at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja over the killings by herdsmen in communities in the state.

Agriculture Minister Audi Ogbeh had Monday said the Federal Government was establishing cattle colonies as a solution to the recent surge of hostilities in rural communities across the country.
Addressing State House correspondents later, Ortom said he could not agree to the creation of cattle colonies proposed by the Federal Government until he understands what it means.
He insisted that ranching remained the way forward, saying: “I’m waiting to be briefed about what colonies mean, I don’t understand it and until I understand it…but like I keep saying, for us the way forward is ranching and up till this time, I am talking to you, the way forward is ranching because is global best practice.
“And it is not just practice in other parts of the world, on African soil in Swaziland, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique almost all African countries that rear cattle, they ranch. so why can’t we do the same thing here?” For the colony thing  I don’t know what colony is.”
On suggestion that full blown military operations be set up in Benue like other places, he said he would support anything that could stop killings.
“Any policy or any directive, anything that will helped stop the killing of  these innocent people who are not armed because this can not continue. We know that the continuity of this will create greater challenges. I don’t want it to continue. We are struggling with economic issues, we are struggling with political issues and we are struggling with several other issues in this country, security issues and all that, Benue State should not be part of this there is no need for it.”
He said the law on prohibition of open grazing and establishment of ranching was made out of the necessity to ensure peace for herdsmen and farmers.
“The law seeks to protect all and as I talk to you, except this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who are instigating people to fight and to kill us, there are Fulani men in Benue State as I talk to you doing their business.”
The governor insisted the the leaders of the Maiyetti Allah be arrested for having threatened attacks.
“I had earlier briefed Mr. President when this incident took place on the 1st of January. After staying back on the ground to do the needful to ensure that we restore normalcy. I said it was important for me to come personally and brief him and that has been done. Already, because of the communications we have been having when this incident started, actions have been taken as directed by him.
“The movement of the DIG, the movement of the IG now to relocate to Benue State to ensure that this challenge is surmounted was at the instance of Mr. President.  Of course additional personally of DSS and Police have been deployed and even the Army. We have additional personnel on ground now. We have adequately and fully given them the logistics support to ensure that our people are protected.”
The governor said President Buhari was also doing further investigation to know the next line of action.
He expressed belief that his request that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who had earlier threatened attacks, would be granted.
 “I accused them directly. Since June last year, I have been writing to the leadership of security agencies that these people are a threat to our collective interest and they must be dealt with. They must be arrested and prosecuted because we cannot allow impunity to continue to thrive. And of course, threat and no action has resulted in this killing and I think that Mr. President will also do the needful to ensure something is done.”
He dismissed the allegations that he hired mercenaries from Ghana to fight herdsmen, saying: “I’m not aware of this and I don’t even know about that one I’m hearing it for the first time. If someone has done that, it must be this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, that have done it.”
He also debunked the insinuations that he was blocked from seeing Buhari.
 “I have never accused anyone of blocking me from seeing Mr. President. I’m seeing Mr. President. I told him when this incident occurred, I spoke to Mr. President on phone and followed it up. I know what it entails being a President, even as governor, most times I am not with my phone, people cannot access me the way it used to be, talk less of a president. I didn’t say that and I have not said it. The truth is that I have access to Mr. President anytime I want, I speak to him on phone and I see him personally. I requested to speak to him on phone that day because I couldn’t come to Abuja and he gave me the opportunity and today I’m here and I have seen him.”
On allegation by the chairman of the state chapter of the Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria Chairman, Garos Gololo, that the killings were in retaliation for the theft of 1,000 cows by some people in the state, he said, “You know that man is a liar. Gololo is a liar, he is a wanted man in Benue State, we don’t even know where he is. He stays somewhere and makes allegations. The other time he said 1,000 cattle drone and the herdsman decided to commit suicide by jumping to the River, he has not come out to justify what he said.”
Orton disclosed that two mobile policemen deployed to keep vigil at Logo Local Government Area of the state were killed by the militias on Monday and another one shot and macheted. “We have taken him to the hospital, we are treating him, the other one that was declared missing was found today (Tuesday). So, when it gets to the level of militias killing security men who are armed and are trained to protect lives and property, is it not taking a dangerous dimension? Who is now safe?”
“On how many ranches has his administration created, he said, “It is not for me to create ranches, I know that as a farmer I have one in my farm and they are several other people who are free. The permits are available for people who want to ranch their cattle to access land and begin to ranch.
 “So it is free for everybody and that is the right way to go. And since we started the implementation there has been relative peace amongst farmers and herdsmen, they were doing well until this militia coming from this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, came and attacked us. And they are known, we know where they are. As I talk to you they are in Tongua in Awe local government, that is where these people are camped and coming to attack people.”