As the debate over cattle colonies rages in Plateau, the chairmen and traditional rulers of Mangu and Bokkos Local Governments have said that no land had been allotted for that purpose.
Media reports had quoted Governor Simon Lalong as naming the two areas among places that had offered lands for cattle colonies proposed by agriculture minister Audu Ogbeh, as part of measures to end herdsmen/farmers clashes.
Ogbeh had, indeed, listed Plateau among the 16 states that had indicated interest and were ready to offer lands for the cattle colonies.
But local government chairmen and traditional rulers in the two Plateau Central local governments, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday, said that Lalong had never broached the issue with them.
They also denied knowledge of any special allotment of land to the state government for the purpose of cattle ranching or colonies.
Chief Nelson Bakfur, the traditional ruler of the Mwaghavul people in Mangu, told NAN that Lalong had never approached him over cattle ranches or colonies.
“The governor has never asked me for a land for the purpose of cattle colonies. I am even surprised by your claims that he listed Mangu among local governments that had donated lands for that purpose.
“But, if it is true that he (Lalong) made such pronouncement to the hearing of the public, I am not aware of any allocation by any of my subjects or authority for that purpose.
“As the paramount ruler of Mwaghavul land, I am surprised to hear from a journalist that my governor made a pronouncement that affects my land because I listened to his interview but did not hear that aspect,’’ he said.
Bakfur added: “if there is any such plan, I am yet to be contacted by the government.’’
Chief Charles Mato, the Sum Pyem, in Gindiri District of Mangu Local Government, equally denied knowledge of such allotment in his chiefdom.
“What we were initially told was that government needed land allocations for a foreign investor from both Mangu and Bokkos Local Governments. We were told that the investor would cultivate Irish Potatoes in large quantity.
“So far, no one has asked us for land to be used for cattle ranching or cattle colonies,’’ he said.
Mr Joshua Mape, President, Mwaghavul Development Association (MDA), told NAN that there was no land given to government for cattle ranches or colonies in Mangu Local Government.
“When we got a hint of such plan, we confronted the Plateau Deputy Governor, Soni Tyoden, who is our brother and son, and he vehemently denied such plan.
“He, however, told us that three local governments – two in the central senatorial zone and one in the southern zone – had indicated interest in offering lands for cattle ranching, but did not name them,” Mape said.
Mr Danjuma Haruna, Chairman, Interim Management Council of Mangu Local Government, who also spoke on the issue, denied knowledge of any land allocated by his council for the purposes of ranching or cattle colonies.
“The Plateau government is yet to discuss any such thing with the citizens of Mangu. I have not heard anything about that,’’ he said.
Mr Simon Angyol, Chairman, Interim Management Committee of Bokkos Local Government, equally denied knowledge of any land allocated for the purpose of cattle ranches or colonies.
“I am hearing this from you for the first time; no one has discussed that with me. In any case, I don’t like talking about sensitive issues like this on phone; I would prefer we meet so as to talk about it, ’’ Angyol said.
Mr Titus Alams, former Speaker, Plateau House of Assembly, also denied knowledge of such allotment by the people of Bokkos or the Plateau government.
“The farmlands in Bokkos are not even enough for the farmers; we do not have such huge land to be surrendered for the purpose of cattle ranching or colonies,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the state government has rejected claims that it had carved out some parts of the state for use as a cattle colony .
A statement signed by Mr Dan Manjang, Special Adviser to Lalong on Media and Publicity, debunked allegations that the governor had carved out parts of Riyom, Barkin-Ladi and Bokkos Local Government Areas for that purpose.
Peddlers of the false reports are claiming that Lalong has been blackmailed by herdsmen to cede the parcels of land or face their wrath.
“We want to declare that such stories are figments of the imagination of the authors who are desperate to make political capital out of them.
“The stories are false, malicious and highly mischievous,” the statement said on Friday in Jos.