Youths from various Benue communities including Zaki-Biam in Ukum local council, Otobi in Otukpo local government on Friday trooped out to protest against the planned Ruga Farm settlement in the state.
The youths claim that the planned Ruga settlement for herders violates Open Grazing Law in the state and will instigate violent clashes between farmers and herders in the state.
President, Benue Youth Congress, Orngu Angu, during the protest argued that the proposed Ruga settlement is an anomaly and the youths in Benue State will not allow it.
“We are out marching on Benue streets this morning to protest the said plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish Ruga settlement in Benue State.
“Benue State has recorded a lot of herdsmen crisis. When we heard the establishment of Ruga – for herdsmen to come and settle with us! We are out here this morning to say that we reject this.
“Our stand has remained on ranching. Benue State has a bill that says all herdsmen should ranch their cattle, anything short of that is an anomaly, and we Benue youths reject this,” Angu said.
In Otobi community where the proposed Ruga project signage has been erected, the community leaders and the youths have sent a protest letter to the state government. The letter was received by the Otukpo local government chairman, Mr. George Alli.
Alli while receiving the letter said the message is well received and will be sent to the state government.
He also stated that it is the duty of the state government to give land out to people coming to settle in their state and claimed that the Ruga project signage was erected without approval from the state government.
“All lands belong to the state government, it is only the state government that has the right to give land to whoever it pleases. The locals are have trusted the state government with the lands.
“We maintain that Ruga settlement is a law against open grazing in Benue State. If anybody wants to ranch, they should go to the state government. The state government will show them where they should go for ranching. They cannot come and point where they want to ranch,” Alli said.
A community leader from Otobi community in Otukpo local council, Ocheme Simon warns against any attempt to forcibly take their land for Ruga project, according to him, this will breed violence.
Leaders from Ukum local government also joined their voices with the youths during the protest. They called for an end to the proposed ruga settlement.
They lamented that Benue State have suffered heavy casualty from herdsmen related crisis and they are not ready to cede their land for Ruga settlement.