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Ruga settlements: More states, groups reject FG’s plan

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More states and groups have rejected the plan by the Federal Government to settle Fulani herdsmen outside their communities nationwide. They consider the scheme a means of giving undue advantage to a private business.

Governor Kayode Fayemi yesterday assured Ekiti people that nobody coming from outside the state would be allowed to take over the land from them.

He said non-indigenes wishing to do business in the state must respect the culture of the indigenous people and must pursue their interest in line with the laws of the land.

The governor gave the assurance when he paid an early morning visit to the people of Orin-Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local Government Area to commiserate with them on the killing of a farmer, Mr. Emmanuel Ilori, by suspected herdsmen last Saturday.

Fayemi said that traditional hunters and security agencies would work together to ensure adequate security for the people, adding that the residents of the state would now witness a deployment of more soldiers, armed policemen and other security agencies so that they can sleep with their two eyes closed.

On his alleged plan to give Ekiti land to “outsiders” in exchange for future political ambition, Fayemi said: “Nobody is coming to take our land in Ekiti, the governor of Ekiti State has power over the land of Ekiti and it is the person that the governor gives land in Ekiti that can use the land of Ekiti.

“If there are negative comments being peddled around that some people are coming to take over Ekiti land, it’s a mere hearsay. It cannot happen in Ekiti except I am no longer the governor and there is nobody that can be governor in Ekiti that will cede Ekiti land to outsiders because our land is not even enough for us.”

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State said there was no plan to establish Ruga settlement in any part of the South-East and South-South zones.

Umahi, who is the chairman of the South-East Governors Forum made the comment in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, in Abakaliki.

He explained that though the South-East zone did propose a deal with members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) towards achieving lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen, there was no plan by governors in the zone to cede any part of their land for Ruga settlement.

“There will be no part of the South-East that will be given out for the purpose of the establishment of Ruga settlement, the zone is purely agrarian with limited land mass for farming and therefore cannot accommodate Ruga establishment.

“We actually proposed a deal with MACBAN to take their cattle to the northern parts where grazing reserves were established long time ago and relied completely on the grasses grown in the South for feeding of their cattle.”

The people of Cross River State and other parts of Niger Delta rejected the Ruga settlements policy and asked Governor Ben Ayade and other governors in the region to speak up on the matter for the sake of peace.

The people who spoke under the auspices of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in conjunction with the All Cross River State Nationals Front, at a press briefing yesterday, said: “Ayade should stand up for the people of Cross River State by telling the Federal Government clearly that Cross River totally rejects the very idea of Ruga settlements and will offer no land or cooperation for that purpose. This is neither politics nor diplomacy. This is a matter of life and death.”

The Secretary of the group, Mr. Bassey Ekefre, said: “Besides our complete and vehement rejection of the idea and intention of the rogue programme, government will require about four-fifth of the state to create one such settlement, going by the proposed forbidden dimensions of the settlements.

“Cross River State is already host to wild life reserves, a Federal Government/United Nations programme which has prohibited the citizens from accessing large portions of land for agricultural and commercial purposes. The struggle for the remaining arable land among our burgeoning population of over six million people has often led to communal conflicts during farming seasons. There is therefore no hectre of land left to spare for settlers.”

Contrary to the position of the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Benue State government has said that the Federal Government did not gazette lands in the 36 states for the Ruga settlements.

In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom, Terver Akase, he said: “We expect the Federal Government to publicly tender documents of the claimed gazetted lands in Benue State to put the matter to rest. The Federal Government should show titles to the lands it claims to have in Benue State, the evidence of compensation it paid to owners of such lands, as well as the purpose for which the lands were acquired.”

The Benue government said it had already made known its stand on the Ruga settlements matter that it would not be part of the project.

The Enugu Diocese of the Anglican Communion said yesterday that the implementation of the policy by the government might exacerbate the fragile security situation in the country.

Urging the Federal Government to be cautious in its implementation, the church which expressed worry that the decision was taken without any consultation with the state governments and other stakeholders, added that the government should not take reactions trailing the policy for granted.

In a statement issued at the end of the second session of its 17th Synod held in Enugu, the church viewed the move to “impose the policy as an act of desperation by the Federal Government to unduly satisfy the wish of a particular ethnic group on the rest of the country”.

The statement signed by the Archbishop, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, urged the Federal Government to withdraw the obnoxious policy in the interest of peace, unity and development.

However, Governor Bala Mohammed said Bauchi State was completely in support of the Ruga settlement initiative. He disclosed this yesterday while speaking with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The pilot states for the implementation of the scheme, according to the government, are Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger.

Fielding questions on the initiative, the governor said “about 70 per cent of the population in Bauchi are Fulani and therefore we must leverage all these.”

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Buhari may repeal Land Use Act for Ruga, SMBLF alleges

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The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has said there is a surreptitious plan by the Federal Government to repeal the Land Use Act and take over the control of lands in the country from state governors.

This, it said, was to enable the government to subsequently implement the suspended Ruga project.

The forum said it gathered that the FG suspended the Ruga Settlement Programme due to the Act which restricted its access to land, adding that the government may move to repeal the law in order to facilitate the implementation of the Ruga grazing scheme.

SMBLF cautioned Southern lawmakers in the National Assembly to be vigilant and to guard against the introduction of any bill intended to repeal or amend the Land Use Act.

The forum said this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday by its co-spokespersons: Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South), Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).

The group stated that it was not impressed by the suspension of the Ruga Settlement Project, which it declared as “an expansionist agenda on behalf of the Fulani nomads.”

The statement reads, “It is being alleged that there will be moves to repeal the Land Use Act in the (Ruga) suspension period so the Federal Government can have authority over land which is currently under the states.

“We therefore call on all our members in the National Assembly to be vigilant about any surreptitious bill that may be introduced to tamper with control of land and thwart such without any waste of time.

“The 2014 National Conference debated this issue at length and resolved to retain the Land Use Act in the Constitution.”

The forum further warned the lawmakers against passing the ‘Bill to establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria,’ sponsored by the executive, noting that it was meant to give the FG sole authority and control over the nation’s rivers and underground water.

The group added, “When this obnoxious Water Bill is taken alongside the Ruga programme and the speculated assault on Land Use Act, the internal colonialism agenda is complete and we would have no one but ourselves to blame if we don’t effect our no-pasaran (They shall not pass — a slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy).

“It is pertinent to ask why the FG is not going ahead with Ruga in some northern states that have accepted the policy if the whole idea was not about land-grabbing in the South and Middle Belt states,” it said.

The political pressure group stated that the FG’s support for local government autonomy was hinged on the Ruga scheme to allow “aliens” to take over allotted land under the programme.

It vowed not to relax its opposition to the project, stressing that only outright cancellation of the initiative was acceptable to the forum.

“The whole policy has opened our eyes to the reason why the President has been harping on local government autonomy now and then,” the group stressed.

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Insecurity: Buhari vows Serious punishment on murderous herders, terrorists

…Salutes army on 156th anniversary

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday vowed that the federal government will not allow anyone who kills or maim another under any guise to go unpunished.

He spoke at the 2019 Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) held at the Ikeja Cantonment, Lagos, in commemoration of the service’s 156th anniversary.

Buhari who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the federal government was working seriously with other states to contain herders-farmers conflicts, banditry and terrorism saluting the army for its efforts to save the country from disintegration.

He said: “Nobody will be allowed to maim, kill or commit other crimes and escape. It is our duty to apprehend and punish these criminals and we are doing and will continue to do so.

“Herder and farmer conflicts, random killings, banditry and kidnapping some attributed to Fulani bandits, in different parts of the country are extant challenges that the army has had to intervene in on several occasions. I want to reassure all Nigerians that these issues are being seriously tackled by the Federal Government, working with the states, through a multi-pronged approach.

“You will be hearing a lot more about these solutions in the weeks and months ahead. Law enforcement is of course an important element of the response.

“We have seen an unprecedented ramping up of the deployment of military personnel- multi-agency intervention squads like Operation Whirlstroke. The training and deployment of Special Forces, new Forward Operating Bases, and so on – to the flashpoints, in the last eighteen months.

“Several bandits’ hideouts and camps have been destroyed, and hundreds of arrests have been made, and it is now up to our judicial systems to ensure that justice is meted out not just comprehensively but also in a timely manner.”

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COZA: Police investigate rape allegation as Busola Dakolo files complaint

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The police have commenced investigation into the allegation of rape against Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) founder Pastor Biodun by celebrity photographer Mrs. Busola Dakolo.

The commencement followed an official complaint filed by Mrs. Dakolo at the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID), Alagbon in Lagos.

A source, who hinted on the development, told our correspondent that the investigation would be thorough.

He stated that the police now have something to build a case on.

It was gathered that she was accompanied by her husband Mr. Timi Dakolo, a popular music artist, who also took to his verified Instagram account to refute reports that Fatoyinbo joined him and his wife in holy matrimony.

Dakolo also denied ever attending COZA nor meeting Fatoyinbo, describing all the counter stories as desperate attempts to cover the truth.

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