Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom has raised the alarm that herdsmen from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Senegal were still maiming and killing the peace-loving people of his state.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crush terrorists across the nation before he hands over power in 2023.
Buhari’s reassurance is coming as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called on governments at all levels to take urgent steps to stem the menace of anti-social and criminal acts going on in schools nationwide.
Also as part of the efforts to tackle banditry, the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), maintaining peace in Plateau and parts of Kaduna and Bauchi states, has trained 103 youths on armed combat and intelligence gathering.
Speaking on ARISE NEWS Channel, Ortom however, disclosed that the strict enforcement of the state’s 2017 Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law has reduced the level of insecurity, pointing out that herdsmen now comply with the provisions of the law.
The state government had enacted the anti-open grazing law on May 22, 2017, to curb the nefarious activities of herdsmen carrying AK-47 rifles about the state, maiming peasant farmers, killing them and taking over their parcels of land.
But following the failure of the law to deter herdsmen from destroying farmlands and killing farmers, the Benue State House of Assembly amended the law, which was signed by the governor on Thursday with stiffer penalties against violators.
Speaking on the amended legislation, Ortom acknowledged that all “is going well with the enforcement of the law except for the notorious criminal elements of Fulani herdsmen, who came from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Senegal.”
Ortom noted that the intention of the criminal elements “is not for grazing or doing cattle business, but to send people away and take over their land.
“Currently, as I talk to you, those people who come around with AK-47 rifles, AK-49 rifles and other associated sophisticated weapons are not just here with cattle. These notorious elements come to kill or maim our people.”
The governor cited the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), who attempted to return to their homes and continue with their farming activities, but were attacked, maimed and killed.
He lamented that the activities of the notorious criminal elements “are part of the reasons we have still over 1.5 million IDPs in our camps across the state.
“The children, who are not going to schools, are not happy. The old men, who are forced to stay in these camps, are not happy. The camps we established here are not even standard. Sometimes, the camps are sited in the school environment.
“The one close to a standard camp is what we have in Makurdi here. The General Theophilus Danjuma Committee constructed it to rehabilitate people. No person wants to live in this camp. But they are forced to live there.
“They want to go back. I am ready to provide logistics for them so that they can go back. But those who attempted to go back were maimed, killed and raped. These terrorist Fulani herdsmen amputated women’s hands.
“The security personnel posted to Benue State have also done their best. But over 100 of them have been killed since 2017. If security personnel, who were trained with sophisticated weapons, were killed, what do you expect averaged farmers, who were displaced and in distress, to go back and do?”
The governor, thus, commended all security agencies including Operation Whirl Stroke, the Army, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the agro rangers for working hard to ensure compliance with the anti-open grazing law and maintaining relative stability in the state.
The governor disputed claims that the legislation “is targeted at Fulani herdsmen in the state. This amendment came as a result of those who felt they have enough money to pay fines or demurrages.
“The issue of the cattle business, as it is today in Nigeria, is not just being done because they have collected enough money. So, they are always ready to pay those meagre sums,” noting that the Tiv, the Igede and the Idoma are equally affected.
Within five years that it had been experimented, Ortom clarified that the law “is not targeted at Fulani herdsmen, Hausa, Jukun or Igbo. It is targeted at every person, including the indigenous people of Benue State.”
He noted that the state’s livestock guards have done well by arresting over 50,000 heads of cattle, while over 600 people were arrested for carrying out open grazing.
“These include the Fulanis, the Hausas, the Tiv, the Idoma and the Igede,” he added.
Monkeypox is spreading around the world. What is the disease and how dangerous is it?
Health authorities in Europe, the U.S. and Australia are investigating a recent outbreak of monkeypox cases, a rare viral disease typically confined to Africa.
Germany on Friday reported its first case of the virus, becoming the latest European country to identify an outbreak alongside the U.K., Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Sweden.
The U.S. and Australia this week also confirmed their first cases, as experts attempt to determine the root cause of the recent spike.
While some cases have been linked to travel from Africa, more recent infections are thought to have spread in the community, raising the risks of a wider outbreak.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and infection and the U.K.’s Health Security Agency said they are investigating a range of cases including those among individuals who self-identify as men who have sex with men, and urged gay and bisexual men in particular to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions.
In the U.K. alone, cases have doubled since the first was identified on May 7. The country now has 20 confirmed cases of monkeypox, though there are concerns there may be many more undetected.
Individuals exhibiting symptoms of the virus — which include rashes and fever — are being urged to seek medical advice, contacting any clinic before visiting.
“These latest cases, together with reports of cases in countries across Europe, confirms our initial concerns that there could be spread of monkeypox within our communities,” Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at the UKHSA, said Wednesday.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, part of the same family as smallpox, though typically less severe.
Generally occurring in remote parts of Central and West Africa, the virus was first detected in captive monkeys in 1958. The first human case was recorded in 1970.
There have since been sporadic cases reported across 10 African countries, including Nigeria, which in 2017 experienced the largest documented outbreak, with 172 suspected and 61 confirmed cases. Three-quarters were among males aged 21 to 40 years old.
Cases outside of Africa have historically been less common, and typically linked to international travel or imported animals. Previous cases have been reported in Israel, the U.K., Singapore and the U.S., which, in 2003, reported 81 cases linked to prairie dogs infected by imported animals.
How do you catch monkeypox?
Monkeypox spreads when someone comes into close contact with another person, animal or material infected with the virus.
The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose and mouth.
Human-to-human transmission most commonly occurs through respiratory droplets, though usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact. Animal-to-human transmission meanwhile may occur via a bite or scratch.
Monkeypox is not generally considered a sexually transmitted disease, though it can be passed on during sex.
What are the symptoms?
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headaches, muscle ache, swelling and backpain.
Patients typically develop a rash one to three days after the appearance of fever, often beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body, such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
The rash, which can cause severe itching, then goes through several stages before the legions scab and fall off.
The infection typically lasts two to four weeks and usually clears up on its own.
What is the treatment?
There are currently no proven, safe treatments for monkeypox, though most cases are mild.
People suspected of having the virus may be isolated in a negative pressure room — spaces used to isolate patients — and monitored by health-care professionals using personal protective equipment.
Smallpox vaccines have, however, proven largely effective in preventing the spread of the virus. Countries including the U.K. and Spain are now offering the vaccine to those who have been exposed to infections to help reduce symptoms and limit the spread.
How dangerous is it?
Monkeypox cases can occasionally be more severe, with some deaths having been reported in West Africa.
However, health authorities stress that we are not on the brink of a serious outbreak and the risks to the general public remain very low.
“While investigations remain ongoing to determine the source of infection, it is important to emphasize it does not spread easily between people and requires close personal contact with an infected symptomatic person,” Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging infections at the UKHSA, said Saturday.
Health authorities in the U.K., U.S. and Canada urged people who experience new rashes or are concerned about monkeypox to contact their health-care provider.
The UKHSA added that it is reaching out and providing advice to any potential close contacts of cases and health-care worker who may have come into contact with infected patients.
WHO issues fresh COVID-19 alert
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned countries that COVID-19 is not over.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said the reports of the decline in cases and deaths do not mean the end of the pandemic
Ghebreyesus spoke on Sunday in Geneva at the opening of the World Health Assembly.
The Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, has 194 member-countries.
At the meeting, the first in-person since 2019, Ghebreyesus advised health ministers not to relax.
“Is COVID-19 over? No. I know that’s not the message you want to hear, and it’s definitely not the message I want to deliver,” he said.
The DG expressed concern about increasing cases in nearly 70 countries in all regions with testing rates reduced.
Ghebreyesus added that reported deaths are also rising in Africa, the continent with the lowest vaccination coverage.
“It’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere. Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70 per cent of their population, almost all of them high-income countries,” he noted.
Nnamdi Kanu’s US lawyer, Bruce Fein challenges Buhari’s minister to public debate
Bruce Fein, a United States, US, lawyer of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has challenged the Nigerian Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami to a debate.
Fein challenged Malami to a debate on a national television over the legal right of the South-East to agitate for Biafra.
In a series of tweets, the US attorney said Malami would have accepted defeat if he turned down the challenge.
According to Fein: “I challenge Attorney General Malami or his designee to debate me on Nigerian television. Topic: The legal right of Biafrans to self-determination.
“My opponent can use two words to every one of mine. Malami concedes defeat if he scampers away from my challenge.”
Kanu is being held in the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS.
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