By James Shim and Matthew Ajai-Kume
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Benue State Chapter, has called on President Muhammau Buhari to immediately stop the visa on arrival policy in the country.
The group also sued for the proscription of what it termed as the violent Fulani socio-cultural organisations like the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Fulani Nationality Movement and Fulani Herders Association, among others.
CAN, in a press briefing in Makurdi recently said the policy is inexplicable and rather heightening the influx of herdsmen and was worsening the security situation in Nigeria.
The Chairman of CAN, Benue State Chapter, Rev. Akpen Leva said, “it was difficult to understand the rationale behind the President’s policy of open visa on arrival.”
He further said the Nigerian Fulani were not known for violence but for carrying sticks in their business of animal husbandry, therefore, stopping the policy would enable Nigerian security agencies to check the influx of militia herdsmen and other security challenges.
According to the chairman, “our unity is being eroded by the inaction of the President and anti peoples policies. The decision of the President to act sharply on issues that affect a particular race and the inaction on issues that affect other Nigerians is worrisome.”
The Benue CAN further called on the federal government to act fast by enforcing the open grazing law. This it said will compel all those involved in animal husbandry to ranch their cattle, explaining that ranching as observed is the only solution to the incessant crisis involving farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria.
“I want to remind Nigerians that, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has been vindicated. The Northern Governor’s rose from a meeting recently with a call on those involved in animals’ husbandry to embrace ranching as the best global practice.
“The President should take immediate steps towards resettlement of the IDPs and be reminded of the promise he made during the burial of two Catholic Priests and 18 parishioners in Benue State, that he will resettled the IDPs with ten billion naira,” he stated.
While commending Governor Ortom for his firm position on the safety of his people, Rev. Leva however, expressed disappointment with the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Ahmed for his comments supporting herdsmen carrying AK47 rifles.
“For a leader of his status to have openly supported the herdsmen for carrying AK47 for self defence is most unfortunate. If a leader could say such comments openly, one begins to wonder what others could say or do. This clearly shows where herdsmen are deriving their power to cause mayhem on Nigerian communities.
“I wonder why patriotic citizens of this country should not be licensed to carry weapons for protectionc,” the chairman said.
The group promised that it will continue to oppose any anti peoples polices even as they have resolved for the unity and harmonious relationship among Nigerians and condemned the recent call by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami for the creation of herdsmen commission.
In another development the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has thrown their weight behind the call by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and others on the need for the Federal Government to do more in securing lives and property in the country.
The apex Nigerian students body made this known recently in Makurdi, the Benue State Capital in a press statement jointly signed by its Coordinators, Comrades
Amangla Awetu, Abah Owoicho and Prince Badir for Zone C; comprising North East and North Central States
According to the NANS Coordinators, from 2015 till date, states within the zone have been the worst hit by crises, with Boko Haram ravaging the North East, while armed herdsmen have been perpetrating mayhem in the states within the North-Central region.
The body described as shocking, the current wave of crises and killings erupting in all parts of country, especially unprovoked attacks on farming communities in the Benue Valley, a situation they noted, was gradually pushing Nigeria into state of anarchy.
It acknowledged the courage of Governor Ortom for championing the cause of peace and security with ranching of livestock as the standard practice. “We sulute the courage of His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state for his continuous advocacy for ranching, the enactment of the anti-open grazing law and standing in defence of the unity of Nigeria
“We call on the Federal Government with immediate effect, ti consult Benue State Government, in order to nationalise the anti-open grazing law of Benue State as other Northern Governors have openly affirmed the realities of ranching as the best practice in modern animal husbandry,” the statement read.
Stating further, NANS said: “We wish to state unequivocally that, we are not unaware of some attacks from highly placed individuals, including a sitting governor against His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom, we wish to state in clear teams that it is unreasonable to politicise crucial issues such as security of lives and peace of the nation.
“At this trying times, all responsible citizens will stand with every voice of reasoning to defend the sovereignty of the Nigerian state viz-a-viz promoting the rule of law and adherence to the 1999 Constitution; as such, NANS zone C wishes to declare total support and solidarity for Dr Samuel Ortom and others who have continued to speak against the current challenge,” the statement noted.
NANS maintained that, Nigeria belongs to all and it is the collective responsibility of all its citizens to protect and preserve it, stressing that anyone that wants to cause mayhem in any part of the country should not be spared.