A Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi and presided over by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon has declared as unwarranted, unlawful and unconstitutional, the federal government policy, plan or proclamation to establish RUGA Settlement and cattle colonies in Benue State.
Justice Olajuwon stated this while delivering judgement on Monday in the suit filed by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Benue State, Barrister Michael Gusa against the Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Minister of Agriculture.
The Judge declared any move by the federal government to compulsorily acquire land for RUGA Settlement or cattle colony in Benue State without the approval of the Benue State government as null and void.
He further granted an order nullifying every action or decisions taken to establish RUGA Settlement or cattle colonies for herdsmen in Benue State.
Justice Olajuwon also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Attorney General, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, The Minister of Agriculture, their agents, privies, servants or whosoever from making any attempt to hold, administer, use or allocate land in Benue State for RUGA Settlement, cattle colonies or any other purpose contrary to the 1999 constitution, the Land Use Act and the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017. The judge held that by section 1 of the Land Use Act of 1978, ownership of land in any state of the federation is vested on the governor of the state,and only the governor has the right to grant statutory right of occupancy to any person.
Reacting, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Benue State, Barr. Michael Gusa described the judgement as sound and that it complies with rules and norms of democracy. He recalled that when Governor Samuel Ortom assumed office, innocent people were killed by herdsmen, a development which resulted the enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.