The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has revealed that bandits were operating in at least 24 out of 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, while for former Leader of the Senate, Mohammed Ali Ndume, accused Ortom and other leaders of being behind ethnic tensions in the country.
Both spoke on Thursday at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Correspondents Chapel Forum in Abuja, where Ortom was the Guest Speaker and Ndume Chairman.
Ortom, who spoke virtually, said: “At least 24 out of 36 states of Nigeria now have serious farmers and herdsmen crisis involving killings.
“Without ranching laws, herdsmen may soon be at every doorstep and this will compromise farming and food security across the country.
“It will also complicate our demographics because many of those who want to herd livestock indiscriminately into the country and dispossess others of their ancestral lands are not even citizens of this country.
“Herdsmen attacks on farmers will only come to an end when open grazing is completely eliminated.
“Many countries in the world including those in Africa have embraced ranching.
“It is a good practice that enhances productivity of animals and quality of meat.
“There are potentials that good implementation of the ranching policy will make Nigeria become an exporter of meat and its associated value-chain of animal protein and allied products.”
On the growing trend of kidnapping, Ortom said: “There is another lucrative business in Nigeria with strong suspicion of connivance with government officials.
“The rise in kidnappings of all categories of people across the country is a dangerous trend.
“We don’t know who is telling the truth.
“But as it stands, there is a strong allegation that desperate politicians brought into the country foreign mercenaries to help them win elections.”
Ndume said: “About 11 soldiers were killed in Benue and as I speak, not one person has been arrested.
“Instead, Ortom is telling us that the perpetrator will be brought to justice.
“Let me tell the governor and other elected leaders that they’ll account for those killed in their states.
“The leadership from the top to the bottom has failed Nigerians.
“The elite conspire and they never disagree.
“They’re always together.
“But the ordinary people are the ones fighting over tribe and other irrelevant things.
“The leaders have failed us, especially those on the Executive side, because they implement programmes of government.
“We can continue to blame ourselves.
“Nothing will change.
“At some point, we must agree on how we will fix this country.
“In Borno, for instance, a whole local government was overrun by Boko Haram terrorists and our people had to flee to Niger Republic.
“This has to stop.”