- Says Building Ranches For Herders Where Humans Are Ranched in IDP Camps Will Not Bring Peace
By Amos Aar
HOUSE of Representatives member for Gwer/Gwer-West, Hon. Asema Achado, has appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to return, resettle and rehabilitate Benue’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their ancestral homes before building cattle ranches for Fulani communities as had been recently announced.
In a statement he personally signed and made available to journalists on Monday, Hon. Achado said the proposal for building of ranches was disclosed by the Director of Information, Office of the Vice President, Mr Olusola Abiola, as part of a broad plan to address conflicts in the North, while the general statement concealed specifics on who will benefit from the houses and part of the press release stated that the project would include ancillary facilities of schools, clinics, veterinary clinics and ranches for Fulani communities in Kaduna and Benue.
Although Achado said he welcomed all initiatives that would promote peace and guarantee succour to the internally displaced persons who have been through all forms of trauma and lost their means of livelihood, he posited that such projects should equally constitute priorities of the victims.
He described ranching as the best practice of animal husbandry that should be adopted all over the world but lamented that providing ranches for herders in a state where human beings are ranched in IDP camps in the fear of same herders will certainly not achieve the desired peace.
The federal legislator also advised the federal government to carry along each state where the project will be implemented considering the land use act.
The statement entitled, “Return, Resettle and Rehabilitate Benue IDPs Before Building Ranches: An Appeal to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” reads:
“I have read very disturbing news of President Bola Tinubu’s approval for the construction of 1,000 houses in Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Benue states.
“This proposal was disclosed by the Director of Information, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Olusola Abiola as part of a broad plan to address conflicts in the North. While the general statement concealed specificities on who will benefit from the houses, part of the press release says the project would include ” ancillary facilities of schools, clinics, veterinary clinics and ranches for Fulani communities in Kaduna and Benue”.
“As one who has always prayed for peaceful coexistence amongst tribes and groups in Nigeria, I welcome all initiatives that would promote peace and guarantee succour to the internally displaced persons who have been through all forms of trauma and lost their means of livelihood, however, such projects should equally aggregate priorities of the victims.
“For many years now, Benue State has been a killing field with thousands of persons murdered by marauding herdsmen and bandits, while many who managed to survive these attacks are taking refuge in poorly constructed IDPs camps, under very dehumanizing conditions, a situation that is already threatening the “Food Basket” status of the state. Majority of the displaced persons cannot access their farmlands anymore as such have been taken over by herdsmen or bandits who are grazing freely on the affected areas.
“There are reported cases where farmers who attempt to visit these abandoned villages out of the desperation to feed themselves are gruesomely murdered by the bandits who are fully occupying these deserted villages.
“It is on this note that I wish to advise as a stakeholder and one of the APC chieftains in Benue, the first step should be directed at deploying security men that would ensure a peaceful dislodgement of the bandits that are unlawfully occupying homes and farmlands belonging to Benue people who are pushed to the IDP camps. Without taking this first step, I doubt the possibility of erecting houses in these areas amidst such volatile security situation.
“Upon dislodgement of the illegal occupants, the federal government would then, begin the process of returning and resettling the displaced persons with assurance of safe and dignified living in their ancestral communities, giving the returnees recourse for property restitution, compensation, rehabilitation or reintegration to build back their livelihoods and economic development.
“May I also suggest that stakeholders in each of the affected states be fully carried along in implementing this project. Because it concerns land, the Land Use Act clearly vests all land comprised in the territory of each state solely in the Governor of the state who holds such land in trust for the people and would be responsible for the allocation of all land in the states to individuals and organizations for residential, agriculture and commercial purposes, while other lands in non- urban areas are under the direct control and management of the local government areas, in which the land is situated.
“Ranching to me is the best practice of animal husbandry that should be adopted all over the world but providing ranches for herders in a state where humans are ranched in IDP camps in the fear of same herders will certainly not achieve the desired peace.
“Since it touches on security, I would be offering more counsel on this matter, off the public space as time goes on but for now, I plead with Mr. President to direct all efforts towards guaranteeing the safety and quick return of the Benue IDPs to their ancestral homes where they can live their normal lives. President Bola Tinubu is a listening Leader and I am confident that working with relevant stakeholders, he will end the attacks and illegal occupation of Benue farmlands in the near future”.