A total of 376 cows have been impounded by the Benue State Livestock Guards from Guma Local Government Area of the state.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Engr Benson Abounu, who paraded the confiscated animals before newsmen in Makurdi on Wednesday, explained that the cattle were arrested from some heavily armed herders in Kaseyo village of Guma LGA.
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He worried that there were traces of heavily armed bandits moving in massively around the borders of Nasarawa and Benue states, stressing that some of them had been arrested by security agencies.
“We also observed that a good number of these people are heavily armed, many of them with AK 47 riffles.
“We have been able to apprehend a good number of them in a village called Kaseyo in Guma LG.
“On the 23rd of January, 156 cows belonging to these herdsmen were apprehended.
“And on the 26 of this same month, another 220 cows were apprehended from the same vicinity.
“It was observed that the herdsmen were not ordinary herdsmen because they were heavily armed.
“I’m sure you are aware in most recent past, there was a declaration by the governor of Nasarawa State when he visited the Aso Rock that there is a deployment of Boko Haram at the border of Benue and Nasarawa states.
“As a result of this, we in Benue State in conjunction with security operatives swung into action to find out the truth and otherwise on that declaration.
“We have no reason to doubt the statement at all.
“While we are still investigating, we had noticed massive deployment of herdsmen on the brink of River Benue on the bank of Nasarawa State bank.
“There is a massive deployment of cows from the river Benue in Agatu LG along river Benue in Gwer West.
“Six herdsmen were arrested and have been handed over to the police,” he said.
Abounu added that the seized cows were being kept in line with the state’s anti open grazing law as he emphasised that Benue is a unit of the federation and governed by laws, one of which is the anti open grazing law.
He stressed that any herdsman whose cows are apprehended and able to pay the fine are given back their animals, noting that the law had been successful so far as a good number of them have been prosecuted.
“I want to make it clear that the state will not abrogate the law.
“It has come to stay and is working very well.
“The major aim of the law is prevention of conflict between herdsmen and farmers,” Abounu added.