On the first day of 2018, Benue, the food basket of the nation, was thrown into mourning. No thanks to suspected herdsmen who gruesomely murdered defenseless citizens and rendered many homeless.
According to reports, six communities in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas of Benue State was attacked on New Year’s day leaving over 50 dead, several injured and scores of houses razed.
The attack is coming few months after the state Governor, Samuel Ortom, signed the Open Grazing Prohibition Bill into law. The law which restricts grazing of livestock to ranches and prohibits the movement of animals from one destination to another in the State except by rail, trucks and other vehicles, was rejected by the herdsmen.
In an interview with Punch, the Secretary-General of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeder Association, Usman Ngelzerma, brazenly stated that the Open Grazing Prohibition Bill must be modified for peace to reign in Benue.
Such statement is highly condemnable, to say the least. Are we running a lawless society? Or are some people simply above the law? Are there no legal means to seek redress? When did opposition to a law become the ‘green light’ for violence?
The Federal Government needs to wake up to its responsibilities. The security of lives and properties of citizens is the first duty of any responsible government. Nigerians are gradually losing faith in the ability of the government to protect lives and properties, hence, the proliferation of different militia groups in various geopolitical zones.
The government should as a matter of urgency regulate the activities of the marauding herdsmen, who are becoming more vicious, daring and brutal than the Boko Haram sect.