According to Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, the Benue State governor, the herdsmen involved in open grazing had their 14-day ultimatum ended.

He announced that the state’s security forces should now fully apply the anti-open grazing law.

The governor made this announcement at a press briefing on Wednesday at Government House, Makurdi’s Old Banquet Hall.

Speaking through his deputy, Dr. Sam Ode, Gov. Alia revealed that the State Security Council made the decision in response to the significant herder population that had recently entered the state.

During the 14-day ultimatum, he claimed, the security council had kept an eye on the actions of the armed herdsmen and reviewed the report of a 7-person committee led by the state’s Force Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke.

In the report, Ode conveyed the council’s satisfaction and emphasised that the law did not target any specific group of people.

However, the administration warned that anyone in contravention of the law, no matter who would face legal action, revealing that most of the state’s herders had left peacefully over the past two weeks.

The Commissioner of Justice and Public Order, Barr. Fidelis Mnyim also explained in his remarks that anyone wishing to raise cattle in the state was required to ranch their animals because the state’s 2017 ranches establishment law and anti-open grazing law were still in effect. Anyone found violating these laws would be subject to the full force and effect of the law.

Additionally, Major General Sunday Igbinomwanhia, the Force Commander of Operation Whirlstroke (OPWS), revealed that the Benue State Security Council formed a seven-member committee to determine how to carry out the request for the withdrawal of armed herdsmen from the state. He described this process as a non-kinetic approach to conflict resolution.

Gen. Igbinomwanhia expressed his satisfaction with the high level of compliance shown by the majority of the herders’ withdrawal and gave his word that Operation Whirlstroke and all state-operating security agencies would carry out the state government’s mandate in its entirety.

Additionally, he revealed that the Kwande local government had undergone some clearance operations by Operation Whirlstroke following an incursion by certain criminals.

He explained that the current crisis in the Ukum local government was caused by a conflict between two militia groups in the area for unidentified reasons, which led to the death of 30 militia members on both sides and that it was not an attack on any of the communities as had been claimed.

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