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Minister links killings to blockade of grazing routes

Grazing Reserves

The Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd) has blamed the recent massacre in Benue and Taraba states on the people’s blockade of grazing routes reportedly encouraged by the laws passed by their houses of assembly.

Briefing State House correspondents yesterday after a meeting ‎of heads of the nation’s security agencies in Abuja yesterday, the minister declared that the development was the remote and immediate cause of the crisis in the two states.

He hinted of plans by the country to meet the February 20, 2018 deadline for the payment of $494 million to the United States government for the supply of Super Tucano aircraft and training of security personnel among others.

His words: “Since the nation’s independence, we know there used to be a route where the cattle rearers take as they are all over the nation. Go to Bayelsa and Ogun, you will see them. If those routes are blocked, what do you expect will happen? 

“These people are Nigerians. Is just like one going to block shoreline. Does that make sense to you? These are the remote causes of the crisis. 

“But the immediate cause is the grazing law. These people are Nigerians and we must learn to live together. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclaves.”

On the implication of the blockade and passage of the pieces of legislation by both states, Dan-Alli responded: “This is internal security, I can provide some answers. I have told you that the remote cause is part of the grazing law. Since independence, there are clear routes where these people pass. 

“On the issue of arms, they are all over. In that killings you are talking about, there are also militias that also did the killings. Some people were caught with arms and they call themselves Forest Guards or whatever with AK47. There is no where in this country where arms are allowed to be carried apart from lawful security forces. 

So, anybody carrying any arm is doing so illegally.” 

He continued: “Militias were caught in the same land doing the same killings. So the incidents are not done by any particular group. It is a communal issue.”

Reminded that his position contradicted widespread opinion that the massacre was being executed by foreigners, Dan-Ali noted: “Of course that is why I said they are militias. Militias are part of illegal immigrants. They are the people.”

Also yesterday, Governor Samuel Ortom said a policeman and farmer had been killed in a fresh attack by suspected herdsmen in Guma council area of Benue State.

Ortom made the disclosure while receiving former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso who paid him a condolence visit at the Government House, Makurdi. He said the victims were burnt by the assailants.

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