Samuel Ortom, Benue state governor, says the same immunity from prosecution enjoyed by the President and Vice-President appears to be applicable to herdsmen and their cattle.
The governor said this in reaction to a statement made by Mansur Dan Ali, minister of defence.
Dan Ali had asserted that the anti-open grazing law was largely responsible for the herdsmen killings around the country.
“These people (herdsmen) are Nigerians. It is just like one going to block shoreline, does that make sense to you? These are the remote causes of the crisis,” the minister had said.
Reacting, the governor described the statement as “an insult to the sensibility of Nigerians”. He lamented that the federal government valued the lives of cattle more than humans.
“I heard a statement credited to the Minister of Defense, saying the killings in Benue were as a result of the anti-open grazing law. I can’t see him saying that kind of thing. If he said so, I would have asked him what he has done about Fulani herdsmen going about with AK47s,” he said.
“I will not surrender my land to foreigners. You can go and do that in your own state. It’s sad that those who are supposed to be assisting the President have instead, turned round to misinform him, all for their selfish interests.
“As a state, we are ready to accommodate those who are genuine and come to our state legally, whether foreigners, to do business. But if you are in Benue, you must respect the laws of the land.
“I see the statement as an insult to the collective leadership and sensibility of the people of Nigeria, for a minister of defence to ask Nigerians to accommodate foreigners who illegally enter the country to cause problems.
“I am now beginning to see that they have given immunity that is the prerogative of President, Vice-President, governors and deputy governors to herdsmen, who kill and to their cattle. Cattle in Nigeria now have more immunity than humans. This is very unfortunate.”