Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has reacted to the comments made by his Plateau State counterpart, Mr Simon Lalong, about the prohibition of open grazing in Benue.
Since the law was implemented, there have been series of attacks by suspected herdsmen on some Benue communities, with dozens of people killed in the recent attacks on Logo and Guma local government areas of the state.
Addressing a delegation of the Arewa Consultative Forum on Friday at his office in Makurdi, the Benue governor said he was pained by the comments and consequently called Lalong who denied making such statement.
“Somebody drew my attention yesterday (Thursday) that he (Lalong) made such comments that he warned me not to implement the law and I was wondering if my colleague from Plateau State could say that; so I called him and he told me he did not say it,” said Ortom.
“But later, when I watched it on Channels Television, he castigated me beyond what I thought a colleague of mine should (but) I’ve forgiven him.”
Shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, Governor Lalong told State House correspondents in Abuja that he had warned his Benue counterpart to adopt ranching and not prohibiting open grazing as the solution to the clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
He had said, “I told the Governor of Benue when he was doing the law, I told him ‘why don’t you do (ranches)? Be careful, take the other steps before you start implementation; states are different.”
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in his reaction, Ortom maintained that although he had a discussion with Lalong, he never received any warning from him.
He, however, explained that even if he was warned as claimed, the decision to implement the law was taken by the people of Benue who he said he had consulted.
“At no time did my colleague warned me about this law but even if he had warned me, it was beyond me,” Governor Ortom said. “It originated from the people themselves and even if he had warned me, I would have told him it is beyond me.”
“It’s about Benue State and I’m not talking about Plateau State; that is what the Benue people want. Is there one person in Benue that is against this law? he asked the regional sociocultural group who responded “no”.
The Benue governor further recalled that instead, it was his colleague who informed him during a private visit that he was also under pressure to implement the anti-grazing law in his state.
He said he later called Lalong after he confirmed that the governor actually told reporters he had warned him but his effort to reach the Plateau governor was futile.
He said: “When I saw this on television yesterday, I tried to get back to him (but) he did not pick my call.
“I wanted to remind him, when I finally confirmed that he said it, that the last time I went to Jos for a thanksgiving service in one of the churches, on my way back I felt like paying homage to him and I did and he told me that he’s under pressure to also enact that law that he’s going to do it.”
“He told me himself; so coming back to say that, I don’t understand but all the same, let us leave all these things behind us – if we leaders begin to disagree amongst ourselves, then there is no sign of a solution to these problems,” Ortom added.