The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; his counterparts in the South-East and the Ekiti State Government have faulted a claim by the Presidency that the Federal Government has gazetted land in all the 36 states of the federation. President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, said that the Federal Government would not impose the Ruga herdsmen settlement on any state. He, however, said, “It is true that government at the center has gazetted land in all the states of the federation.” But Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, on Monday, challenged the Federal Government to show any proof of gazetted land in the state. He said, “We wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements, contrary to the Presidency’s claim. “We expect the Federal Government to publicly tender documents of the claimed gazetted land in Benue State to put the matter to rest. “The Federal Government should show titles to the land it claims to have in Benue State, the evidence of compensation it paid to owners of such land, as well as the purpose for which the land was acquired. “The Benue State Government has already made known its stand on the Ruga settlements matter that the state will not be part of the project. “This was why the government and people of the state rejected the attempt to impose the Ruga settlement projects on them without the consent and approval of the governor who controls and administers the land in the state in trust for the people.”
The Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Monday, through his media aide, Mr Emma Uzo, said that Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Abia and Imo states had not given the Federal Government any land for Ruga settlements. “There is no gazzetted land for Ruga in Ebonyi State or any other state in the South -East zone. There is no gazetted land for any establishment of cattle ranch or colony. There is no part of Ebonyi or Igbo land that is designated for such a purpose by the Federal Government,” the governor said. The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, on Monday said that the United States was worried by the tension which the Federal Government’s introduction of Ruga settlements for herdsmen had created in some states. According to a statement by the media office of Gani Adams, the US Embassy officials in Lagos who visited him in his Lagos residence expressed worry about the planned policy. The statement stated that the US Political Officer, Shashank Iyer, and Political Specialist, Arnold Abulime, expressed their concern about the issue when they visited Adams to seek his views on the security situation in Nigeria. 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 quoted the US envoys as saying that they knew Nigerians had the capacity to pull through hard times but stated that ethnic issues could put them asunder.