PUNCH: We’ll enforce anti-open grazing laws, say police

The Nigeria Police Force said on Friday that its personnel would enforce all the laws in any state as they concerned the protection of lives and property.

The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Jimoh Moshood, stated this in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, while speaking on the enforcement of the law on the open grazing ban in Benue State.

Moshood said the police would enforce all the laws as they pertained to the protection of lives and property.

The police spokesperson noted that the civil authorities had the right to issue a directive to the security agencies.

The House of Representatives had on Thursday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to immediately begin the enforcement of the Open Grazing (Prohibition) Law in Benue State and halt the killings by herdsmen.

The House passed the resolution in Abuja as lawmakers again condemned the latest attacks on villagers in the Okpokwu Local Government Area of the state where 26 more lives were lost on Monday.

It asked the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and heads of other security agencies to implement the anti-open grazing law in Benue State.

When asked whether or not the police had enforced the law on open grazing by the Benue State Government as directed by the members of the House of Representatives, Moshood said, “If they are directing the IG, they have the constitutional right to give any directive to an agency over which they have an oversight. Nobody is denying that. They should be the ones to say whether we have been enforcing the ban or not.

“On our part, the police have been enforcing all the laws as they concern the protection of lives and property. What I’m telling you is that the police are bound to enforce all laws (including the ban).

“It is the same people who say they are giving a directive that can say whether the police have been enforcing the ban or not.”

The Benue State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, could not be reached for comment as of the time of filing this report.

But he had earlier told one of our correspondents that 44 persons had been arrested for violating the anti-open grazing law in Benue.

Owoseni had said that the arrests were made by the military in the course of the operation, which started on February 15, 2018.

He said, “Arrests were made with regards to the non-compliance to the Open Grazing Prohibition Law of Benue State.

“Forty-four suspects were arrested by the military in the course of the exercise by the military for violating the law in the state. The suspects have been arraigned in court and their trial is ongoing.”

Besides Benue, Taraba State has made a law that bans open grazing in any part of the state.

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had at a northern stakeholders summit on security on February 28, advised state governors to build ranches before banning open grazing.

He had said, “To reduce the incidence of clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria, state governments should endeavour to establish grazing ranches in their various states before enacting laws to prohibit open rearing and grazing,”

This, he said, would make the law banning open grazing acceptable by the people.

The IGP, on Wednesday, warned governors to desist from pushing anti-open grazing laws in their respective states until they had ranches for livestock in place.

Idris’ comment, which is a reiteration of similar warnings for which he had been criticised in the past, was delivered at a security meeting with northern leaders on Wednesday in Kaduna, according to a police statement.

“To reduce the incidence of clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria, state governments should endeavour to establish grazing ranches in their various states before enacting laws to prohibit open rearing and grazing,” Idris was quoted as saying in an e-mailed statement from the Force Headquarters.

The police chief has been an ardent critic of any legislation that targets herdsmen’s activities across the country, warning that the best approach towards a peaceful resolution of the farmers-herders crisis is to work out the modalities for livestock ranching first.

Benue cancels mass burial, prepares for Buhari’s visit

Meanwhile, the Benue State Government has cancelled the planned mass burial for victims of Fulani herdsmen attack in Okpokwu last Monday.

The state governor, Samuel Ortom, had announced the mass burial for the victims of Fulani herdsmen attack during his visit to Omusu Edimoga in Okpokwu Local Government Area of the state.

Twenty four persons were said to have been killed during the attack which left many people injured and several persons missing.

A statement on the Facebook page  of the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase, said, “There wouldn’t be a mass burial of victims of Fulani herdsmen attacks in Okpokwu.”

No reason was given for the cancellation of the mass burial which was initially planned for Friday (yesterday).

The statement added that the burial would now take place next week Thursday.

The statement further said, “A church service followed by the burial of the victims will take place on Thursday, next week at Okpokwu.”

Ortom had equally announced the visit of President Muhammad Buhari to the state on Monday.

Ortom disclosed the planned president’s visit during the state working committee’s meeting of the All Progressives Congress on Thursday.

Herdsmen kill 11, torch 50 houses in Plateau

Over 50 houses were burnt and eleven persons, including twins, were murdered in the early hours of Friday in two separate attacks carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen on two villages in Plateau State.

President Muhammadu Buhari had barely left Plateau State when the attacks were launched on Ganda village of Daffo District in Bokkos Local Government Area and Miango village in Bassa Local Government Area. The communities were attacked few hours after the inauguration of Plateau State Peace Building Agency by the President, who was in Jos, the state capital, on a working visit.

The Spokesperson for the Miango Youth Development Association, Lawrence Zongo, identified the five persons killed in Miango as Emmanuel Joseph (16), Christopher Joseph (16), Peace Joseph (6), Henry Audu (25), Illa Isa Peter (52). Three of them were siblings, out of which two of them were a set of twins.

He added that Cenka Amos, four, who he said was seriously injured, was receiving treatment at Enos Hospital, Miango.

He said, “What happened to us is very bad, (it happened) despite the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari. The state government has been preaching peace but Plateau State went up in flames. Five persons, including a set of twins (Emmanuel Joseph and Christopher Joseph) and their brother, Peace Joseph, were killed.

“We have been devastated and shocked. Despite all the peace meetings with the Fulani people, the assailants keep killing our innocent people without provocation. It is sad that the military cannot arrest the Fulani persons behind the killings. The government has failed in protecting lives and property of citizens. Our demand is that the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted.”

The National President of Irigwe Development Association and a former member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Sunday Abdu, also confirmed the casualty figure of the Bassa attack, while the Spokesperson for Bokkos Local Government Area, Jerry Datim, confirmed that of Ganda.

Abdu said, “Yes, it is true that five people were killed in Miango by Fulani herdsmen in an attack which took place on Thursday night and lasted till the early part of Friday. Others were wounded in the unprovoked attack. The bodies of the five slaughtered people have been deposited at the hospital morgue. We are no longer in a hurry to bury our dead. Whenever we are going to bury them, we will let you people know.

“The Fulani herdsmen are killing us but they are the ones crying. What kind of pretence is that? I still appeal to the security personnel not to relent, but to step up vigilance and surveillance to stop this pogrom and unwarranted carnage.”

Datim said that “over 50 houses were burnt, six persons killed at Ganda, while several persons were also injured and rushed to the hospital.”

A lucky survivor, Matawal Mangut, who lost five brothers to the attackers in Ganda, lamented that their house was burnt completely and that everything they ever worked for was gone.

He called for “assistance from the federal and state governments” to help protect them from the persistent Fulani herders’ attacks in the area.

When contacted, the Spokesperson for Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, confirmed the killings, describing it as “culpable homicide and grievous hurt.”

Tyopev also gave the names of some of the deceased persons but some of the details were different from the information provided by Zongo.

He said, “Yesterday (Thursday), March 8, 2018, at about 8 pm, some unknown gunmen attacked and killed four Irigwe people at Datanko village and one Fulani Christian at Nzharuvo village in Miango District. The deceased persons were identified as Emmanuel Joseph (male, 16 years), Christopher Joseph (male, 16 years), Peace Joseph (male, six years), Henry Audu (male, 25 years) and Samuel Isah (male, 48 years).

“Meanwhile, Samuel Isah has been buried, while four other corpses have been deposited at the Jos University Teaching Hospital’s mortuary. Chenka Amos, four, is still lying unconscious at Enos Private Hospital, Miango. The investigation is in progress; intensive patrol is being sustained.”

The Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Plateau State), Mohammadu Nuru Abdullah, had on Wednesday alleged that there was a fresh attack on his kinsmen, which claimed three lives.

While it was not clear whether the allegation was true, investigations by Saturday PUNCH revealed that anytime MACBAN made such claims, including the rustling of their cows, there were always reprisals on communities.

Abdullah, had in a statement, said he was “overwhelmingly shocked” that the Irigwe militias, in an effort to accomplish their mission of terrorising Fulani herdsmen in Bassa Local Government Area, had on Monday, April 5, 2018, again attacked Fulani cattle herders and mercilessly killed three persons without any provocation.

He had identified the persons as Abubakar Shehu, Abubakar Gidado and Ishaq Yusuf.

“It is also disturbing that the Irigwe community would always trespass into other neighbouring local government areas, launch their attacks and kill our people for no reason.”

He had said, “On the same Monday when three of our kinsmen were killed, the same militias attacked and killed a total of 38 cows; 20 of the cows belonged to Wada Alh Audu, while 18 belonged to Umaru Ibrahim.

“The Irigwe militias usually cross into Riyom, Jos South and part of Southern Kaduna to strike. In this particular incident, they operated from Rukwechungu village of Miango district in Bassa Local Government Area into Gero village of Gyel district in Jos South Local Government Area.

“They also beat up and wounded Haruna Zakariya, who is now receiving treatment in a clinic at Rafin Bauna. It is on record that this militia group has been unleashing terror on  our innocent cattle herders in the area.”
Naija Newspapers
Naija Newspapers

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