'We say no to Fulani Ruga settlement' — Benue youths hits the street with protest, Warns Buhari govt

Benue Youth Forum, BYF, on Thursday, condemned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government’s proposed Ruga farm settlement for herdsmen across the country.

Buhari government had disclosed that it was working towards establishing Ruga settlements for herdsmen in 12 pilot states nationwide.

Mohammadu Umar, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in Abuja on Tuesday.

Following the disclosure, Governor Samuel Ortom had reiterated that Benue State had no land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies or ruga settlements.

In a swift reaction, some groups had condemned Ortom and his counterpart from Taraba State, Isiaku Darius for kicking against the establishment of the settlement.

Reacting, BYF rubbished the groups, while stating the constituinal provisisons backing the governors stance.

A statement by its President, Kuanum Terrence reads: “We read media reports credited to two obviously sponsored groups, the Concerned Middle Belt Citizens Forum, CMBF, and National Democratic Front, NDF, which purportedly challenged Governors Samuel Ortom and Darius Ishaku’s rejection of the Ruga Settlement pattern.

“It could be recalled that the two Governors raised objection to the Federal Government’s initiative on two fundamental grounds that it contravened the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and also subverted the provisions of the Land Use Act.

“Unfortunately, these two groups which have been hurriedly fabricated to advance the cause of the advocates of the Ruga Settlements failed to address any of these grounds.

“Nigeria’s Constitution provides for the right of states to make laws for their good governance while the Land Use Act vests the administration of all land in the states in Governors.

“Based on provisions of the Constitution both Benue and Taraba States made Ranching Laws which the Ruga Settlements contradict. They also subvert the Land Use Act by ignoring the approval from the Governors for their establishment.

“Instead of addressing the concerns these groups have rather accused Governors Ortom and Ishaku of stalling peace efforts, failing to surrender arms in their possession as well as creating faulty legislation that have increased the magnitude of crises in their states.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. The press outings of the groups are intended to divert attention from the issues at stake.

“Apart from cooperating with the security agencies and providing them with logistics support, we are much aware that the two Governors have held several joint Security Council meetings and worked tirelessly to curb farmers, herders and other forms of violence in their states.

“No one has established any case of arms possession against either Governor Ortom, or Governor Ishaku. Indeed, what has been established is Governor Ortom’s amnesty programme which ensured the surrender of hundreds of arms and thousands of ammunition and their destruction in accordance with United Nations specifications.

“The due process for the enactment of the Ranching Laws in both states took sometime and the groups had the opportunity to make inputs to address any deficiency or to challenge their validity after enactment.

“That they could not do any of the foregoing exposes them as hurriedly fabricated groups that have not been on ground.

“Moreover, the claim that grey areas in the Ranching Laws have exacerbated the crises between farmers and herders in Benue and Taraba States is not tenable as the magnitude of the crises in several states that do not have such laws have exceeded that of the two states.

“We urge Nigerians to ponder over the fundamental objection of the two Governors and several others and rise up to reject the Ruga Settlements initiative.”


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