Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state/The Guardian Nigeria

The Benue State Government on Tuesday debunked statements made by the Presidency on the Ruga settlement in the state by the Federal Government.

Concise News reports that the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, Garba Shehu had said that Benue state was not included in the Federal Government’s Ruga plan, insisting that the initiative is voluntary.

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Reacting to the claim, the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, Terver Akase, in a statement said the federal government, through its ministry of agriculture, wrote to the Benue state government informing it about the decision to establish Ruga settlements in the three senatorial zones of the state.

The spokesman added that the State Ministry of Agriculture which received the correspondence replied the Federal Ministry, stating clearly that Benue state had no land for the Ruga settlements, but has land for ranches as stipulated by the state’s open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law of 2017.

“Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu made last night during the 10 pm news of Channels Television. He stated that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom should not have spoken against the imposition of Ruga settlements on his state because, according to the Presidential spokesman, the Governor was not included in the Ruga plan.

“The statement was as contradictory as it was false, misleading and lacking honour.

“The Federal Government, through its Ministry of Agriculture wrote to the Benue State Government informing it about the decision to establish Ruga settlements in the three senatorial zones of the state.

“Our Ministry of Agriculture which received the correspondence responded that Benue has no land for the Ruga settlements. It added that the state only has land for ranches as stipulated by the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.”

He added that the Benue Government openly rejected the Ruga model, describing it as illegal.

“The Benue State Government subsequently made public its rejection of the Ruga model of animal husbandry and reminded those pushing for the illegal settlement patterns about provisions of the country’s Constitution and the Land Use Act.

“If the Senior Special Assistant to the President claims that Benue was not included in the Ruga arrangement, why did the Federal Government send contractors to mount the project’s signposts in parts of the state? If Benue was not included in the Ruga settlements, why did the Federal Government say it has gazetted lands in the 36 states for the project?