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Bill not aimed at creating crisis -Bagos.

Recently, a pressure group christened 'Plateau Youth G17 Peace and Progressive Forum' stormed Plateau State House of Assembly to present an Anti Open Grazing Bill to the Lawmakers. The presentation has been generating controversy especially between the Fulani herdsmen and the natives. Convener of the G17 Mr. Dachung Musa Bagos in this interview with ISAAC SHOBAYO shed light on the rationale behind the bill. Excerpt:

WHAT prompted the bill your group presented to Plateau State House of Assembly, what was the motive behind it?

Actually what prompted us as youths in Plateau State under the umbrella of Plateau Youths G-17 Peace and Progressive Forum to present the anti-Open Grazing Bill is to achieve a peaceful Plateau State. We have come to conclusion that an Anti-Open Grazing bill is the only solution to the continuous attacks on innocent farmers by herdsmen in Plateau State. We went to Benue State and some other states that have such laws and we discovered it is the only solution. The Law is working perfectly well in Benue, Taraba and Ekiti states, the level of attacks and clashes has reduced. So what are we waiting for in Plateau State? If that is the solution to the killing of innocent farmers, then so be it, to protect the lives our People. If the Benue government and the entire People have taken decision on the bill and itaos working then we call on the state House of Assembly to equally follow suit and do the right thing to protect our people from being killed almost on a daily bases.

Plateau State has 17 local governments. But most of the local governments in the northern and central part of the state have been under siege by the Fulani herdsmen. Riyom Local Government is completely under siege, It is not a crime that God gave us green vegetation and our people are farmers, are we going to farm in the air or on the sea, or any other place? we farm on land.

There is no way we can compete with grazing. It is impossible for grazing to go alongside farming. And for several years we have pleaded with the herdsmen but they continued the killings.

In what way do you think your bill can address incessant clashes?

The lasting solution to the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen is the Anti-Open Grazing bill as we had submitted on the 5th December, 2017 to the Plateau State Speaker, and we are against government buying hectares of land for Ranching. If peoplewant to go into ranching let them acquire lands as private Ranching as being done in many parts of the world, but we will not support government taking our land and give it to some people. No we will not agree. Are those people more important than us?

We also observed that efforts to find a permanent solution to the herders-farmers crisis has not yielded the desired results in Plateau State and the only solution now that has been tested and is working is for the state House of Assembly to immediately make passage of the anti-open grazing bill which, already, over 90 percent of the people of the state have received with joy as the only lasting solution. We are aware of all the attacks in Bassa, Riyom, Barkin Ladi, Bokkos and other Local governments in the State. It should not continue.

What is your reaction to the position of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association that your bill is capable of igniting crisis in the state?

We are not crisis implementers, we have never ignited any crisis. our objectives are defined by our name, Plateau G-17 Peace and Progressive Forum. So the law banning open grazing is never aimed at a crisis, but finding lasting solution to Peace in the state.It is in the light of the incessant attacks and in a bid to put an end to the massacre and occupation of conquered territories hitherto occupied by sons and daughters of Plateau State that propelled the G-17 Peace and Progressive Forum, a non-religious, non-political pressure group with members drawn from the 17 Local Government Areas that make up the state to painstakingly take the burden of preparing a bill, which if passed into law will definitely end the senseless killings that plagued the state in recent times.

If someone is planning to ignite crisis let him tell us, by this we are calling on government and security agencies to arrest all those planning to ignite crisis in Plateau State, and by their statements they should be held responsible, but for us Plateau G-17 Peace and Progressive Forum we are not for crisis. When Benue, Taraba and Ekiti passed the bill there wasnaot crisis, and Plateau State will never witness crisis.

What are the major issues in your bill?

The anti-open grazing law specifically permits grazing of livestock only within ranches and prohibits the movement of animals from one destination to another in the State except by rail, trucks and other vehicles. It spells out punishment for offenders ranging from imprisonment to payment of fines on conviction by a law court. Interestingly, the law also protects livestock and ranches as it stipulates severe punishment for any person convicted for rustling cattle or any other animals kept in ranches.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Dec 16, 2017
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