IN THE NEWS: PANDEF, Benue community, reject Ruga settlements for herdsmen
…….The Pan-Niger Delta Forum and the people of Akpa/Otobi community in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, have rejected the planned annexation of land in states for cattle colonies, also called Ruga settlement, by the Federal Government.
They argued that it would precipitate crisis and insecurity in the country.
PANDEF in a statement in Abuja on Thursday by its National Secretary, Dr Alfred Mulade, said it was disturbing that the Federal Government could unilaterally decide to establish cattle colonies in states.
PANDEF argued that by the Land Use Act, enacted in 1978, the power to allocate land in a state was vested in the governor, stressing that the idea of cattle colony was disrespect to the rule of law.
The forum stated, “This disrespect to the rule of law with impunity and authoritarianism neither fits into the practice of democracy, nor supports Mr President’s recent recommendation of true federalism for Nigeria.
“In fact, along with the re-submission of the Inland Waterways Bill and the approval of a radio frequency for establishment of radio stations for herdsmen by the Federal Government, there is only one inescapable conclusion, and that is, Nigeria is towing a catastrophic destiny.”
Mulade asked the governors of the Niger Delta states to collectively reject the policy which he noted was capable of undermining the peace and security in the region.
But the people of Akpa/Otobi community in the Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue, the one of the communities selected for the Federal Government proposed ruga settlement on Thursday protested against the citing of the project in their domain.
The protesters insisted that they had no land for cattle grazing, adding that the Federal Government should immediately step down the project and vacate their community which was meant for farming.
A signboard for the project was said to have been erected around the area selected for Ruga settlement.
Three local government areas; Tarka, Otukpo and Ukum were selected by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for the project.
The protesters who thronged out in large numbers displayed placards with various inscriptions and chanted protest songs to denounce the ruga settlement.
One of the protesters, Ediba Igbago, said they were not ready to live with the herdsmen.
The Acting District Head of Akpa/Otobi, Chief Ochinya Ofeka, who led the protest to the secretariat of Otukpo LGA in Otukpo, handed over a letter of protest to the council chairman.