The paramount ruler and people of Akpa/Otobi community in Otukpo Local Government Area, LGA, one of the areas designated by the Federal Government to host the proposed (Ruga) settlements for herdsmen in Benue State yesterday led his subjects in a peaceful protest in Otukpo town rejecting the proposal.
The people who came out in their numbers bearing placards with various inscriptions like ‘we do not have land for Ruga’, ‘open grazing is not allowed in Benue’ and ‘we will resist Ruga’ chanted war songs as they marched through major streets in the area.
One of the leaders of the protesters, Steve Ocheme said they embarked on the march to impress on the Federal Government the need to cancel, in the interest of peace, the decision to give their land to herdsmen.
“We are peasant farmers and we can’t grow our crops with cattle. We are calling on Federal Government to reconsider this plan in order not to throw our communities into crisis,” he said. On his part, the Acting District Head, Akpa Otobi community, Chief Ochinya Ofeka said, “we gave lands to Federal Government for dam, Research Center and for the School of Health Sciences but we don’t have for open grazing in whatever name or form.”
Receiving the protesters who also handed him a protest letter, Caretaker Chairman of Otukpo LGA, Mr. George Alli appealed for calm adding, “Nigeria’s Constitution is very clear on the issue of land administration as provided for by the Land Use Act.
“And like Governor Samuel Ortom has always said, we are in full support of ranching, but we are against open grazing under any nomenclature, whether cattle colony or RUGA settlement,” Alli added.