Christians and Muslims in Benue State, on Monday, staged a joint peaceful solidarity march to the Government House, Makurdi, in support of the Anti-Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law recently enacted by the Benue State Government.
Addressing the two groups, Governor Samuel Ortom commended them for what he described as the civil and peaceful nature of their demonstration of support, assuring them that the law had come to stay.
He said due diligence was followed in the enactment of the law with public hearings conducted across the state even as the members of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore were given the opportunity to make inputs.
The governor challenged anyone with a better solution to herders/farmers’ clashes other than ranching to bring it up, stressing that it was regrettable that some people sat in Abuja and condemned the law meant to protect lives and property in the state.
He explained that the law also stipulated stiff penalties against cattle rustling which was in the interest of herdsmen, adding that it also covered all livestock and not only cattle.
He promised to deliver the letter given to him by the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the state to the acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, for necessary action.
Earlier in his address, CAN President, Benue State chapter, Rev. Akpen Leva, said they came to express solidarity with the governor for initiating a law which would end mindless killings and the invasion of Benue land by militant Fulani herdsmen.
He urged the full implementation of the law and the arrest of the leaders of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore for allegedly declaring a war on the state and threatening to rebel against law and order in the state.
Also speaking, the Chief Imam of Izalla Mosque, Gboko, Alhaji Bala Ibrahim, said Muslims were part of Benue and would always support any move aimed at securing the lives and property of Benue citizens.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions such as ‘CAN says open grazing in Benue State is now a crime, the law must be respected by all’, ‘Security agents must arrest and interrogate the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore over their contempt and resentment of anti-open grazing law’, ‘Anti-open grazing law has come to stay in Benue State and it must be respected by all’, and ‘Christian Council of Nigeria supports anti-open grazing law, says enough of bloodshed’, among others.