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Full transcript of what Madaki Ameh said on Channels TV about anti-open grazing law in Benue (VIDEO)

Written By Idoma Television on Saturday, November 4, 2017 | 3:22:00 AM

By Vera Enenche
Few days back, legal practitioner and former senatorial aspirant in Benue South, Madaki Ameh during a live program monitored on Channels Television, Abuja openly faulted the recently implemented anti-grazing law in Benue State.

The lawyer said the governor does not have the right to stop anybody from ranching in the country, insisting that ranching has been existing for centuries before the governor came on board.
His comment triggered serious controversy, with many Benue natives calling for his head.

IDOMA VOICE obtained the full transcript of the interview and reproduced it below.

Well, thank you very much. I think we have a major challenge right now. The challenge is that it is a good idea to prohibit open grazing because the practicise is primitive and it is not sustainable. It has led to conflicts between the herdsmen and the indigenous communities whose only means of livelihood is agriculture most subsistence agriculture.

Because the farming circle is just like once in a year, your farm produces get eaten up by cattle  or livestock then you will have to wait for entire year to be able to get anything out of the farm again. This has been very frustrating and this has been a source of conflict for many decades.

But I don’t also think that the current approach is going to solve the problem. It is good to pass a law that says, no ore grazing of livestock in the conventional way that we have seen it for decades, but what if the institutional framework that has been put in place to ensure that ranches actually get established and their livestock get moved into those ranches.

What I expected the government to have done since May, when the anti grazing bill was signed into law was to ensure that a framework was created to encourage private interpreter to go into the business of ranching. So that when open grazing becomes a  crime (as it had on November 1) there will ranches where the livestock that are currently in Benue would be moved into. But we don’t have any functional ranch in Benue as we speak. So, where do you expect the cows that were in Benue legitimately on the 31 of October to go to on  November 1? Laws are supposed to be made in a way that make it 'obeyable.' 

But, if you make a law, just to play to the gallery and create an environment which become a bubby trap, then you will have to re-look the entire process of the establishment of the law. I have recommended on several platforms in the recent  past that what should have happen is to create a win-win situation. The herdsmen are known to have been  grazing their cattle throughout the country openly for  centuries.

They are used to this practice of their own form of agriculture but it interferes in the rights of the indigenous farmers , who do not have any form of livelihood apart from farming in the normal way they have inherited from their ancestors.

Why would you make a law that ostracizes a section of this country? The Land Use Act says every Nigerian has the right to land in every part of the country. So, if you are trying to create integration, or you are trying to establish a situation where everybody feels at home, why would you stigmatize a certain set of people just because they are not from a particular place. 
You know, we are trying to create an all-inclusive country. What I would have expected to happen in a situation where the actual implementation of the law will create an avenue for private entrepreneur to establish ranches that are commercially viable and what I have recommend is a situation where government encourages the setting up of ranches by creating a fund which grants single-digit interest loan to  people who are interested in setting up ranches, give them long moratorium and in those ranches that are set up, using fund that are flexible to obtain when you already access to 10 hectares of land or more.

Then you will set up a school in each of the ranches where the nomads can send their kids.

I strongly believe the Fulani herdsmen and the indigenous people of Benue can live together. We have lived together with the Fulani for ages, we have allowed the herdsmen to graze their cattle as long as we have co-inhabited together.  But when you create a feeling that leads to feeling cows are not wanted. We need the cows to be able to provide the meet that everybody wants on their table. So let’s look at it from that commercial perspective where we see that the herdsmen validly are entitle to carry out their business but they must carry it out in a very uncivilized manner so as not to interfere in the rights of the indigenous farmer, and this can be don as a win-win rather than decreeing it one day that all herdsmen must leave.

How can you ask people to leave without creating----(presenter stops him).

Transcribed by Vera Enenche of IDOMA VOICE

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