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Finally, anti-grazing law takes effect in Ortom’s Benue State

…Tension observed around North Bank area cattle market

The effectiveness of the tension-soaked Benue State Anti Grazing Law which was passed in May this year and signed into law by Governor Samuel Ortom commenced on Wednesday across the state.

However, palpable tension was observed in areas around the North Bank axis of the cattle market.

In a state-wide broadcast made to the people of the state yesterday morning, Governor Ortom appealed to all citizens to be law abiding; saying “No one should take law into his hands. We have put adequate machinery to enforce the law.”

Throughout Wednesday, parts of the state capital, Makurdi was calm, but stern looking faces are observable around the international cattle market at north bank area as cattle within the market were restricted to the ranch, while some cows which showed signs of fatigue were down.

According to the State Secretary of Cattle Dealers Association (CDA), Garuba Mohammad, “The situation is a hard time for us and we have fears that the new law would run us out of business.

“Before Wednesday, our cattle used to graze within two kilometers to the abattoir; they had been forced to restrict movement of cows due to the presence of vigilante groups scattered around their routes.

“If you look round, you will see that some of the cows are lying down. It is because of lack of food and water. Vigilante groups have been stationed on all our routes, even to the stream down the fence. We cannot go there because we have been warned not to go beyond the fence of the abattoir.”

“As am talking to you now, about 72 members of CDA at the North Bank area have over 3,000 cows and are in fears that most of the cows might die in the next few days due to lack of movement to areas where grasses are in abundance.

However, Mohammed called on the state government to provide the needed facilities within the abattoir, such as water and grass; adding that if the state government fails to assist, they might be forced to move out of the state.

When contacted, the Chairman, Joint Task Force on the enforcement of the anti open grazing law, Col. Edward Jando (rtd.), said the vigilante group was only performing its duty and all necessary arrangements have been put in place before today to forestall any breakdown of law and order.

He said this is a new era in Benue and people must learn to be law abiding as that is the best definition of civil society and peaceful coexistence.

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