Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has stated that the state has lost over N400 billion worth of property to renewed militia herdsmen attacks on Benue communities.
He stated this during an interactive session with newsmen where he spoke on his achievements and challenges of his administration in the past three years.
The governor noted that the estimate was arrived at following preliminary report of assessment of damages caused by the crisis, stressing that the loss was much and difficult to recover from.
He said the Anti-Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state was the people’s legislation and that no amount of intimidation or blackmail would make them repeal it, noting that he has no regret whatsoever concerning the enactment and implementation of the law.
“I have no regret. Why should I have any regret doing the will of my people? They trusted me and gave me their votes and I will not betray what they want. I am doing what they want and I have no regret,” Governor Ortom stated.
He commended his colleagues from Taraba and Abia states for keying into the ranching law, saying it was the right way to go.
The governor also called on Nigerians with a better alternative to bring it on the table to find a lasting solution to farmers and herdsmen attacks in the country.
He challenged the Defence Minister, Dan-Masur Ali to come out and tell Nigerians why there are killings in Zamfara, his home state and other states of Nigeria like Kaduna among others where there are no anti-open grazing laws, saying he was waiting for the minister to apologise to Nigerians on his comments.
“The Benue Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law originated from the people and no one will intimidate us to repeal it. What the Defence Minister is doing is encouraging anarchy and I am waiting for him to come out and apologise to Nigerians and Benue State in particular concerning his recent outburst against our law. Killings are going on in his home state, Zamfara, Kaduna and other states where there are no prohibition of open grazing. What can he say is responsible for those killings?” the governor queried.
The governor lamented that he came in with a clear vision to industrialise the state but the herdsmen crisis had taken toll on his administration with 18 local governments currently under siege out of 23.
He however noted that partnership with development partners, donor agencies among others through payment of counterpart funds had yielded great results for the state, adding that the result would have been wonderful with guaranteed security.
Governor Ortom also stated that arrangements were being made to pay arrears of salaries and pensions to workers both at the state and local government levels whom he said were being owed for seven and ten months respectively.