A coalition of socio-cultural groups in Benue State, comprising the Mdgzou U Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi’Ngede, lambasted the minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali for his insistence on the enforcement of cattle routes, instead of ranching.
The spokesman for the coalition, Chief Edward Ujege, said, “I wonder how a supposed educated and professional soldier will call for the suspension of an act of parliament in a democracy.
“We are tempted to deduce from the utterances of Mansur Dan-Ali that he does not understand or is not familiar with the letter and spirit of Nigeria’s constitution, which he swore to uphold. He should help himself to be abreast of the document before making statements or suggestions.
“It seems to us that Mansur Dan-Ali imagines that the current democratic dispensation is a military rule where decisions are taken unilaterally.”
According to Ujege, Dan Ali’s stance has emboldened the herdsmen to continue in their “heinous crimes.”
He added, “Less than 24 hours after he made the statement, herdsmen saw reason to continue with their dastardly acts, killing no fewer than 10 persons in the Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue State.”
Also, the President of the Middle Belt Youth Council, Emma Zopmal, noted that the defence minister should proffer a solution to the killings as a matter of urgency, otherwise he would be held responsible for his comments in spite of the perennial problem.
Zopmal said, “For the Minister of Defence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to canvass the repeal of the anti-grazing bill, there must be a sinister motive against our people. The law was aimed at resolving the problem. So, when did it become a crime?
“The statement of the minister is totally out of place. He should retract it and face his job of preserving the sovereign integrity of this country threatened by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen or resign now.”
In the same vein, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Benue State, Mr. Lawrence Onoja Jr., said there was no amount of advice or suggestion that would force the state to suspend the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.
Onoja stated that the constitution of Nigeria permits all state governments, through their houses of assembly, to make laws for the good governance of their people.
The spokesperson for the apex Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, also condemned the defence minister’s call for the reversal of anti-grazing laws.
Achi-Okpaga said, “The Minister of Defence is suffering from political malnutrition. Because of his military background, he thinks that his pronouncements are law, without recourse to the legislative process.
“He shares the same background with the President and that is why he can make such utterances and expect Nigerians to abide by it.
“In civilised climes, some officials like the defence minister, the Chief of Army Staff, the Inspector-General of Police and others should have resigned as a result of the severe insecurity in the country.”