Benue State House of Assembly has asked Governor Samuel Ortom to direct the 23 local council Chairmen across the state to remove any signpost sited in their domains by the Federal Government for the purpose of establishing Ruga Fulani Settlements.
Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Titus Uba, who put the demand on behalf of members during a press conference, yesterday in Makurdi, explained that it was not in the constitutional power for the Federal Government to freely allocate land for the establishment of Ruga-Fulani settlements or any other project.
He said the right to allocate land belongs to Governors as enshrined in the constitution, vowing that the state Government would not give out Benue land for the Ruga settlement initiative. He added that already, there was inadequate land to meet crop-farming needs of the state’s agrarian communities.
He urged the Federal Government to rather implement the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017, and that any individual wishing to settle in Benue and engage in animal husbandry should follow provisions of the law.
He said: “The 9th Benue State House of Assembly condemns in totality plans by any individual, group of people, or Federal Government to allocate any portion of land within the state for such a questionable project…
“Also, Benue State House of Assembly is 100 percent in support of Governor Samuel Ortom and the people of Benue State on the enforcement of the Anti-open Grazing law as a panacea for ending herders-farmers conflict.”
The Guardian gathered that this decision followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by the Majority Leader, Mr. Tyoapine Cheme, who rejected the establishment of RUGA settlements proposed by the Federal Government in three local governments, which include Tarka Otukpo and Ukum.
In a motion, Cheme expressed shock that instead of the Federal Government supporting implementation of Open grazing prohibition and Ranches Establishment law being implemented by the state, it was looking for ways to forcefully collect Benue land in the name of establishing settlement for herdsmen. He said the attempt is contrary to the Land Use Act of 1978, which gives Governors powers over all lands within their territory.