Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue says the open grazing law in the state is being implemented as no fewer than 400 persons from various ethnic nationalities have been arrested for violating the law.
Ortom, who spoke with State House correspondents after a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday, said he was in the Villa to brief Buhari on the security situation in his state
He said the law on open grazing was still operational and was not targeted at any group.
“The place is relatively peaceful; the law is being implemented and we have arrested 400 people irrespective of their ethnic background, whether Fulani, Igbos, Yoruba, Tiv, Idoma.
“We have convicted 50 people for contravening various offenses and we have seized more than 2,000 cattle.
“But we ensured, no one has molested any cattle, nor killed any cattle but once your cattle is seized for open grazing by the livestock guard, within seven years when your cattle is quarantined, if you don’t come to pay fines and redeem your cattle, we auction them.
“So far, for cattle that we have arrested, people have come to redeem and so we have not had any cause to auction any cattle; the law is still in force in Benue State and we are implementing it.
“Everyone is free to establish ranch, we are not targeting any individual or group; anyone who wants to do cattle business should come to Benue and ranch, that we have land for it but for open grazing we have no land.”
On the situation on Katsina Ala road, Ortom said all the stakeholders in the state were willing to cooperate to address insecurity situation but for one notorious criminal “Gana,” who was trained by Boko Haram and had continued to terrorize the state.
According to him, Gana is the one instrumental to the kidnappings happening between Benue and Taraba states–all forms of criminality – armed robbery, assassinations and so on.
“The community too has given up because as at today, the three local governments of Katsina Ala, Logo and Buruku are not safe.
“No educational, farming, commercial activities are going on, the Igbos that are major traders have vacated.
“With operation Y Stroke, we are going to move against them and we believe we will be able to surmount them.’’
Ortom also reacted to reports indicating that his state was among 17 states that were insolvent as their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in 2018 were far below 10 per cent of their receipts from the Federation Account Allocations (FAA) in the same year.
He said that to be able to pay the N30,000 minimum wage and meet other demands, loopholes would be blocked.
The governor said that the plan was to look inward; generate more funds; improve on IGR; block some leakages and cut down cost of governance.
The governor said he believed in dialogue and was also very transparent with the state’s finances.
“For me, if I have my way they should even earn more than N30, 000 if the resources are there, they deserve it, we go to the same market and so we know the cost of living and other things are involved.
“The challenge is whether the resources will be there; I believe that we will look for ways and I believe it is not only Benue state.
“There are about 17 states-all together; maybe at governors forum, there will be a way to get out of it,” he said