To douse the tension caused by the passage of the anti-open-grazing law in three states, the Federal Government is considering the suspension of its implementation.
This was part of the discussion at the security council meeting, yesterday, which had all the service chiefs in attendance.
The anti-grazing law is already operational in Benue, Ekiti and Taraba states.
In Ekiti State, the law, signed by Governor Ayo Fayose in 2016 prohibits open-grazing between 6p.m. and 7a.m.
Governor Samuel Ortom followed suit in 2017 with a law that placed absolute ban on open-grazing across the state. The law, which went into effect in November 2017, has been blamed for the escalating violence that has left hundreds of residents dead in attacks linked to herdsmen across Benue since January 1.
The anti-grazing law passed by Taraba State in July 2017 came into effect on January 24, 2018, with a caveat that it will be implemented gradually after aggressive awareness campaigns across the state.
Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, in a statement signed by Colonel Tukur Gusau at the end of the meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari suggested the “need to employ other channels with the affected states to reduce tension by suspending the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law while also negotiating safe routes for the herders.
It stressed the urgent need for the Police and Department of State Services to prosecute all the suspects arrested in states and to hasten the establishment of a National Commission on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the country.
Although the suspension of the law is in line with the demands of Miyetti Allah, the umbrella association for cattle herders, Dan-Ali’s positions ran against past recommendations by the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Economic Council (NEC) that the option of ranching be adopted to end the frequent bloody clashes.
The statement from the meeting also harped on the need to launch of a Joint Task Force Operation similar to Operation Safe Haven in Jos, with headquarters in Gusau to cover Zamfara and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna state, where kidnappings and killings have also been on the rise. According to the minister, the Council considered the killings and kidnapping in the North-west, particularly along Abuja-Kaduna expressway even as the service chiefs reviewed the activities of armed bandits and other criminal elements in Anka, Maru, Kaura Namoda and Atalanta Mafara of Zamfara State. While noting that incidents of herdsmen-farmers clashes in Benue and Taraba had subsided, the minister disclosed that several arrests had been made in connection with killings and destruction of properties.
He added that he informed the Council that the United States of America conveyed to the government of Nigeria about the implementation of Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act Section 231.
“It is pertinent to state that the award of contract for the procurement of the Mi-35M helicopters was completed before the act was signed into law in August 2017,” he said.