The Governor of the Benue State, Samuel Ortom ; his counterparts in the South-East and the Government of the Ekiti State have declined the Presidency’s claim that the Federal Government has gazetted land in all 36 federal states.
In a statement in Abuja on Sunday by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the Federal Government would not impose any state on Ruga herdsmen.
He said, “It’s true that the government at the centre has gazetted land in all the states of the federation.”
But Ortom questioned the federal government to show any evidence of gazetted land in the state in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, on Monday.
He said, “We want to make it clear that, contrary to the presidency’s claim, no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing paths, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements.
“We expect the Federal Government to openly tender papers from Benue State’s alleged gazetted land to put the matter to rest.
“The federal government should show titles to the land it claims to have in Benue State, the proof of compensation it paid to the holders of that land and the purpose for which it obtained the land.
“The Benue State Government has already made it known that the state will not be component of the Ruga settlements initiative.
That is why the government and the citizens of the state dismissed the attempt to impose on them the Ruga settlement projects without the permission and approval of the governor who regulates and manages the property in the state in confidence for the people.”
No gazatted land in Igboland for Ruga – Governors of S’East
The South-East Governors ‘ Forum also said that the federal government had no gazetted land in the area for Ruga villages, cattle colonies, or any central government nomenclature.
Ebonyi State’s forum chairman and governor, David Umahi, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Monday through his press assistant, Mr. Emma Uzo, said that the countries of Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Abia and Imo had provided no land for Ruga settlements to the federal government.
“No gazzetted land exists for Ruga in the state of Ebonyi or any other state in the south-east area. No gazetted land is available for any cattle ranch or colony establishment. There is no component of Ebonyi or Igbo land designated by the federal government for such a purpose,” said the governor.
Ekiti has no such thing, the commissioner claims.
The Lands, Housing and Urban Development Commissioner, Febisola Adewale, said in Ekiti State, “There’s nothing like that. No one in Ekiti State has approached us for this purpose.”
Nobody from outside can take our land – Fayemi
The governor of the state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, also said that no one could come from outside to take the Ekiti people’s land.
Fayemi, who visited the Orin Ekiti community on Monday after the murder of a hunter, Mr Emmanuel Ilori, expressed his condolences to the people that no one from outside the state would be permitted to take over the property from his people.
Fayemi said that traditional hunters and security agencies would henceforth work together to ensure adequate security for the people of the state, as he assured that more soldiers, armed police and other security agencies would be deployed by the people of the state to enable them to sleep with their two eyes closed.
He said, “No one comes in Ekiti to take our territory. Ekiti State Governor has authority over Ekiti’s land and it is the individual the Governor provides land in Ekiti that can use Ekiti’s land.
“If there are adverse remarks that some people come to take over Ekiti land, they’re just a hearsay. It can’t happen in Ekiti except that I’m no longer the governor of Ekiti State and there’s no one in Ekiti who can be governor who will cede Ekiti land to outsiders because our land isn’t even enough for us.
“What concerns me most in Ekiti and Nigeria is adequate safety for our people, and I want our people to disregard the lies and falsehood that some individuals spread around.There is no one in Ekiti who will be governor who will allow outsiders to take over the people here from our societies or say people from elsewhere should come and take over Ekiti land.”
We say no to the settlement of Ruga, it has the agenda of Fulani – Benue CAN
Meanwhile, more responses were drawn by the Ruga settlement project on Monday. Nigeria’s Christian Association in Benue State opposed the settlement, stating a Fulani agenda was intended to be promoted.
At a press conference in Makurdi, CAN State Chairman Dr. Augustine Akpen-Leva said that the Ruga settlement was irrelevant to the people of the state.
Taraba youth group, CAN reject Ruga settlement
The Ruga settlement plan was also dismissed by Taraba State youths and CAN government management.
While the youth group led by Nigeria’s National Youth Council State President, Udi Adamu, held a peaceful protest against the plan in Jalingo, the state capital, state chairman CAN, Dr. Innocent Solomon, said the system was inappropriate in a statement.
Ruga settlements, recipe for crisis –IYC
The Ijaw Youth Council, for its part, described herdsmen’s Ruga settlements in some areas of the nation as a recipe for crisis, demanding that the Ijaw people resist them.
IYC President Eric Omare said it was incorrect for an ethnic group to impose their wishes on the nation as a whole, warning that the Ijaw people were prepared for war should there be any effort to take their land for Ruga settlements.
Under the aegis of the Greater Restoration Initiative, a group of human rights activists also failed the Ruga settlement system, describing it as “property grab project.”
The organization encouraged President Muhammadu Buhari to “rebuild for his kinsmen destroyed and displaced peasant populations and not Ruga villages”
While condemning the scheme, the GRI said a disclaimer on the Ruga initiative by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in a statement by its president, Dr. James Mozeh, in Abuja on Monday, was not sufficient to clarify the character behind its oversight and the reason behind it.
Edo PDP vows to sue Obaseki if he cedes land for Ruga
In Edo State, the People’s Democratic Party, chapter Edo State, vowed to drag Governor Godwin Obaseki to court if he did not reject his supposed plan to transfer portions of the state to Ruga.
The party’s state chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, said Monday in Benin that the state governor’s silence when his peers came out vehemently against the plan was more worrying.
He said, “It’s not a political thing. It’s about the individuals of Edo. We heard reports of killing people, chasing people out of their homes. That’s pretty troubling.
“You’ll agree with me that it’s not in our culture to allow animals to destroy the farms we’ve been working to grow.
This problem of Ruga settlement can be linked to the scenario where you are going to bring pigs from the south to a whole Muslim community, and you say you want to build a room for people who are involved in piggery to do their farms in a Muslim community. For us in Edo State, that’s the same way, and you understand very well that it’s not part of our culture.
“So, if, despite the resistance of the healthy people of Edo State, the governor chooses to go ahead, we feel strongly broken. You can rest assured that we will take every step we can to safeguard our people’s interests.
“You cannot rule out our position as to take a legal action if he decides to go ahead,” he stressed.
US worried over tension caused by Ruga – Gani Adams
On Monday, Yorubaland’s Aare Ona Kakanfo, Gani Adams, said the United States was concerned about the tension caused in some states by the introduction of Ruga colonies for herdmen by the federal government.
According to a statement by Gani Adams ‘ press office, the representatives of the US Embassy in Lagos who visited him at his residence in Lagos voiced concern about the strategy planned.
The statement indicated that U.S. Political Officer Shashank Iyer and Political Specialist Arnold Abulime expressed concern about the problem when they visited Adams to seek his opinions on Nigeria’s safety situation.
Some of those present at the meeting were former Minister of Defence, Dupe Adelaja; Dr Akin Sonaiya; former Political Adviser to the President, Akin Osuntokun; Publicity Secretary of the Oodua Peoples Congress, Yinka Oguntimehin.
The statement cited the U.S. envoys as stating that they knew that Nigerians had the ability to push through difficult times, but that racial problems could set them apart.
The proclamation read, “The United States was worried about the country’s tension, particularly now with Ruga’s introduction. The US is concerned about how all of the country’s ethnic groups can live peacefully.
“Living together is difficult for everyone, so that’s why there’s a need to meet and share views. In Nigeria, we need to be able to move the needle forward together, address ethnic problems that can destabilize the nation.
“Nigerians will always find a way around economic issues, but ethnic issues have a way of destabilising the country.”
Adams in his response said the solution to all the crises bedevilling the country was in restructuring.
He said the problems would have been resolved within four years if there had been restructuring.
He said, “Nigeria’s going to war is not in the world’s interest. It’s going to affect the world. With over 200 million inhabitants, every part of the globe will feel Nigeria’s disintegration.
“So what we’re looking for is for your state to prevail over the restructuring of Nigeria’s government. Most of our issues will be resolved within four years of restructuring.
“Our system is going to a state of collapse, especially with the Buhari Government in the last four years. And it can only get worse. If Buhari does not restructure, it will get worse.
“To save this country, the only way is to accept the report of the Constitutional Conference of 2014 or revert to the 1963 Constitution. As it is now, no zone is peaceful anymore.
“Even in Katsina, the President’s state, two traditional rulers were kidnapped without their traces till today.”
Bauchi Gov is fully in support of Ruga settlements.
But on Monday, Bala Mohammed, the Bauchi State Governor, said the state was fully in support of the controversial Ruga settlements.
Mohammed defended the system on the basis that 60 to 70% of the Bauchi population belonged to the ethnic Fulani stock.
The governor, who spoke to State House correspondents in Abuja after a conference with the president, observed that the Ruga system was voluntary and therefore no state was required to participate in the execution.
Mohammed, a former Federal Capital Territory Senator and Minister, said, “60 or 70% of Bauchi’s population is Fulani, so we need to leverage it.”
Speaking about the purpose of his visit to Buhari, the governor said that insecurity was paramount with regard to the problems he put before the President.