Benue State government arrested a farmer, Atsegba Ukua, and his son in Gbajimba, Guma Local Government Area of the state on Friday for rustling six cattle.

Rtd. Col. Paul Hemba, Special Adviser on Security to Gov. Samuel Ortom, told journalists on Saturday in Makurdi that Livestock Guards arrested Ukua and his little son while they were on their way to sell the cattle.

He said Ukua told the Livestock Guards that he seized the cattle on his farm as they were destroying his crops and was on his way to sell them to recover his losses.

Hemba who said government was not satisfied with Ukua’s explanation, stated that he would be treated as a cattle rustler.

“We do not accept his explanation. He is a cattle rustler and will be treated as such. He and his son will be handed over to the police for prosecution.

“This is part of the reason why Gov. Ortom advocated for ranching to end all forms of criminality associated with open grazing,” he said.

He said the six cattle would be handed over to Miyetti Allah representatives for onward handing over to the owner when found.

Ukua did not controvert what Hemba said when he was allowed to speak with journalists.

He said that in 2020 he seized a number of sheep in his farm and handed same to Livestock Guards and the Army, but he did not hear from them again and was not compensated either.

This, he explained, prompted him to take his latest action.

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Hemba also told journalists that a minor, less than 10 years old, was arrested at Yelewata, also in Guma Local Government Area with 60 cattle for violating the state’s Anti-open Grazing Law.

The minor who simply identified himself as Usani was all alone in the bush grazing cattle when he was arrested with the herd.

Hemba lamented that the minor who was probably not going to school was exposed to all manner of dangers in the bush while grazing cattle. (NAN)