FULANI herdsmen body the Miyetti Allah cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) has apologised to the Benue State government over the activities of its members that have led to the cold blooded murder of thousands of villagers across the state.
Over the last five years, Macban has been on the rampage across Benue State in particular, carrying out murderous attacks against Agatu, Tiv and Idoma villages, that have left thousands dead. This prompted the Benue State government to pass an anti grazing law and led to Governor Samuel Ortom leaving the ruling All Progressives Congress APC for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In a sign of rapproachment, Saleh Alhassan Macban’s national secretary attended a peace initiative brokered by the chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyeama in Makurdi yesterday. At the event, he expressed regret over the Benue killings and pledged to ensure peaceful co-existence between herdsmen and farmers in Benue State moving forward.
Alhaji Alhassan described Governor Ortom as a peace-loving man who stood firmly for the emancipation of his people. In addition, he gave assurances that members of his group would embrace the peace initiatives put forward by the governor.
In response, Governor Ortom stated that the enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law by the Benue State government was designed to end the killing of innocent people and encourage ranching as the global best practice of animal husbandry. He stated that any person or ethnic group wishing to rear livestock in the state was free to come, acquire land and ranch according to provisions of the ranching law of the state.
Governor Ortom noted that the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law protects both farmers and livestock owners, adding that legislation was not meant to promote crisis of any kind. Chief Onyeama had earlier, emphasised the need for peaceful coexistence between farmers and herders in Benue State, saying he personally brought Alhaji Alhassan to broker peace between Macban and the people of the state.