Defence Minister, Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan Ali (retd.) on Tuesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to compel states to suspend their anti-grazing laws and negotiate safe routes for herdsmen.
He made the suggestions when the president had a closed door meeting with security chiefs. Those in attendance apart from Ali include National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin.
Others were the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ekwe Ibas; a representative of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar.
Dan-Ali, according to a statement issued by his Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau, at the end of the meeting, argued that the suspension of the law “would reduce tension.”
The anti-open grazing law is currently operational in Benue, Ekiti and Taraba states.
In Ekiti State, the law, signed by Governor Ayo Fayose in 2016, prohibits open-grazing between 6 pm and 7 am.
Governor Samuel Ortom followed suit in 2017 with a law that places an absolute ban on open-grazing across Benue State.
Taraba State passed the anti-grazing law in July 2017, but it came into effect on January 24 this year, with a caveat that it would be implemented gradually after aggressive awareness campaigns across the state.
Dan-Ali, according to the statement, 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 herders; the urgent need for the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services to prosecute all the suspects arrested in states; and the need to hasten the establishment of a National Commission on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria.”
The minister also suggested the inauguration of a Joint Task Force Operation similar to the Operation Safe Haven in Jos, with the headquarters in Gusau to cover Zamfara and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna State, where kidnappings and killings had also been on the rise.
The minister explained that the council considered the killings and kidnappings in the North-West, particularly along the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway even as the service chiefs reviewed the activities of bandits and other criminal elements in Anka, Maru, Kaura Namoda and Atalanta Mafara areas of Zamfara State.