At least 25,000 people have been displaced from over 44 villages in Plateau's Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas by "alien herdsmen", Rep member, Istifanus Gyang says.

The IDPs currently taking refuge in different locations with friends and relatives mainly are currently under severe economic stress as they have been cut off farming which used to be their main source of survival, the Federal House of Representatives member for Barkin Ladi/Riyom constituency told The Light Bearer.

To enable them get back their homes and farms therefore, a bill has been prepared by I.D. Gyang as he is called for the establishment of a national commission for the reconstruction and reintegration of communities displaced and devastated by violent herdsmen attacks across Nigeria, he said.

Details of the interview are as follows:

TLB: You recently raised an issue that sparked public outcry on forcefully acquired lands in your state. How much of such lands are in the possession of the herders in your constituency?

ID Gyang: The displacement of native communities from their ancestral homes and habitat in my Constituency as a result of violent herdsmen attacks has persisted for over a decade. As at date, not less than 44 villages and communities have been displaced and are presently under occupation by alien herdsmen.
Let me clarify here that annexation and territorial conquest under a modern state is no longer in vogue. This is more so when the state has the exclusive constitutional powers and control over the armed forces. The invading capacity of the murderous herdsmen can be effectively contained and terminated by the security apparatus of the state. Where such fails or is lacking, can only be by allowance and complicity of the state  that has the constitutional mandate to enforce law and order.

TLB: How many of your constituents have been displaced and what is their current socioeconomic life sequel to the displacements?

ID Gyang: The magnitude and economic implication of the occupation is such that the farmlands and plantation of the victims have been taken over by the occupying herdsmen.
There are over 25,500 persons that have been displaced from the 44 communities. They are graciously being hosted  by relatives and well wishes in other safer communities in the Constituency and in neighboring Jos South LG.
Some have gone is search of livelihood in Kaduna state, FCT Abuja, and even in the South West  cities of Lagos and Ibadan.
The displaced persons are under severe economic stress as they have been cut off from farming which is their main economic life line and preoccupation.

TLB: Why isn't this call for land restitution an independent motion knowing the gravity of the situation?

ID Gyang: I am already working on a Bill for the Establishment of a National Commission for the Reconstruction and Reintegration of communities displaced and devastated by violent Herdsmen attacks
across the nation.
This Bill has provision for the restoration and repossession of all occupied lands to the original owners as it is being done to liberated lands and territories hitherto occupied by Boko Haram insurgents in the North East.
The Bill also places the responsibility of reconstructing the destroyed habitats of the victims on the Government which has the mandatory constitutional responsibility of safeguarding and securing the people from anything that constitute a threat to their safety and well being including the murderous herdsmen attacks.
A legislative motion does not have the force of law. Rather, it is merely an advisory to the Executive arm of government. A Bill on the other hand results in the emergence of a law by an Act of Parliament which the government has to implement. That is why I have taken the option of facilitating the process through a Legislative Bill.

TLB: With all these, why don't you support cattle colony or reserves where these herders would be confined to maybe 5% of the entire land in the constituency thus allowing the people reclaim the dominant landmass?

ID GYANG: The cattle colony policy initiated by the government of course was dead on arrival as even it’s earlier proponents have reversed their positions on the matter.
The misfortune and severe consequences resulting in monumental loss to lives and ancestral heritage that has befallen those communities that welcome and accommodated herdsmen over the years has made it difficult to concede to the cattle colony policy initiative.
The cattle colony policy has been perceived by my Constituents as a ploy to provide cover for the herdsmen to hold the lands under occupation in perpetuity. Furthermore it is seen as an attempt to legalize the illegality perpetrated by the herdsmen.
I would rather align my thoughts to the concept of private ranching as a means of modernizing the nomadic culture of cattle and animal breeding given its adverse sociocultural consequences and security implications to both the herdsmen and ...to be continued