Nigerian Concord Newspaper
A pro-democracy group known as Defenders of Democracy (DoD) has raised an alarm that the Governor of Benue State, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia is planning to review the open grazing prohibition and ranches Establishment Law of the state in order to appease certain external interests.
President of DoD, Amos Achiv in a statement, accused governor Alia of making clandestine arrangements to arms-twist traditional rulers and other stakeholders to endorse the review of the law to enable his government expunge the sections which Miyetti Allah and other groups of pastoralists have often kicked against.
The statement reads:
“As a group with the mission to defend democracy and good governance, we find it urgent and necessary to raise this alarm to caution Benue people before it is too late.
“We have it on good authority that the governor of Benue State, Father Hyacinth Alia is planning to cause a review of the Anti open Grazing law of the state to remove the sections that Fulani groups have always opposed.
“Benue people should recall that last week, two main Fulani groups, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM told governor Alia that if he wants peace in his state, he must either repeal the law or amend it to remove the aspects that have frustrated them and chased their members out of Benue state since 2017.
“FUNAM particularly accused Gov. Alia of betraying an agreement they had with him before they funded his campaign to win the 2023 election. The militant Fulani group listed many conditions that the Governor must meet if he wanted to regain their trust.
“Whether the accusation of FUNAM and the demand of Miyetti Allah are true or not, the latest moves by Governor Alia have made us to suspect that there is something he knows with those Fulani groups that the rest of the people do not know.
“Our inner sources have revealed that some days ago, the governor met with traditional rulers in the state from Zones A, B and C and expressed dissatisfaction with the law. His body language was that of a man who wanted the support and blessing of the royal fathers so he could go and repeal or amend the law. But to his shock, the traditional rulers pointedly told him not to tamper with the law as it is a law for all Benue people who only asked his predecessor governor Samuel Ortom to enact and defend.
“According to our informant, governor Alia was shocked and frustrated that he couldn’t get his wish from the royal fathers. He left but did so with a plan B.
“The next move of Governor Alia is convene a stakeholders meeting and try to push for a drastic review of the law to render it ineffective and useless the way Fulanis want it.
“Benue people must be watchful. The enemy is not sleeping. This may sound as a mere rumour but if the people of the state take their eyes off the ball, something will hit like and it will be too late.
“Something is not just clear about the relationship between governor Alia and those pastoralists. Do not forget that during the campaigns, he said several times that he would encourage “coexistence” with the herdsmen and also condemned the operations of livestock guards. He accused the livestock guards as those causing trouble and inviting attacks on the state.
“This plot must not be allowed to succeed. If the anti open grazing law is reviewed and rendered useless, it will be the highest mockery of our state. If anyone collected money from Fulani, let the person the money to them. Our land is not for sale!”