PAN-Igbo cultural association Ohaneze Ndigbo has warned that no land will be made available in Igboland to Fulani cattle herdsmen to enable them create ranches or livestock colonies.
Over the last four years since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, Fulani herdsmen have stepped up their campaign of violence against farming communities, especially in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. These attacks by the heavily-armed herdsmen have sparked fierce criticism, with the government under attack for nothing to bring the perpetuators to justice or stop the carnage.
President Buhari has come under a lot of personal criticism being accused of inaction due to the fact that he himself is an ethnic Fulani and breeds cattle, so is reluctant to move against his kinsmen. As part of a solution to the crisis, it has been argued that states should make land available so they can build ranches away from farms.
However, this has been vehemently opposed by several Igbo groups, who fear it may lead to Fulanis taking over the southeast. Yesterday, Ohaneze Ndigbo’s national executive council met in Enugu where it insisting it would not be intimidated by members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (Macban) to surrender land for livestock business.
It had been reported that Macban leader Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, had threatened to unleash mayhem on the zone following the refusal of the governors to accommodate their members by approving land for cattle rearing. However, Macban has since denied making the threat but Ohaneze Ndigbo has said it will wait for the herdsmen to carry it through.
Ohaneze Ndigbo chairman Chief John Nwodo, however, cautioned Ndigbo to be vigilant and reactivate their local defence outfits in line with the threat. He stated that the increasing killings, kidnapping and various forms of banditry were an indication of collapse of national security.
Chief Nwodo said that several mining companies had without license occupied parts of northern Nigeria and engaged in continuous and uninhibited illegal mining, protected by local and foreign militia, carting away and selling valuable mineral resources belonging to the country. He stated that while nobody accounts for the proceeds generated from the illegal mining activities, oil deposits in the south are exploited and used for the benefit of the entire nation.
According to him, a Muslim militia group with all the features and characteristics of Isis had invaded parts of northern Nigeria, capturing district heads, stealing and forcing occupants to flee their homes and in some cases to neighbouring countries. He stated that while Macban and militant herdsmen have continued to kill, maim and destabilise Christian areas in Kaduna, the southeast and Southwest parts of the country had continued to witness the kidnapping of people.
Chief Nwodo added: “What is disturbing is that very few arrests, seizures of arms or prosecution have been made in all these instances by our national security forces. The impression is created that their activities have the encouragement, sanction or acquiescence of our national security forces.”