FULANI herdsmen body the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) has said it will not suffer any loss of business or revenue as a result of the decision by governors in southeast Nigeria to deny them land for livestock colonies.
Over recent months, the political temperature in Nigeria has risen substantially after it emerged the federal government proposed that states make land available to Fulani cattle herdsmen to allow them create livestock colonies. Coming against a background whereby Fulani cattle herdsmen have carried out numerous murderous attacks against farming communities, the move has created tension across the country.
Within the last five or so years, heavily armed herdsmen have been attacking villages, particularly in the Middle Belt, murdering thousands of innocent villagers. Several state governors have suggested that herdsmen should establish private ranches to raise their livestock, to end the practise of them marching their animals across the country along grazing routes.
Governors in the five states of the southeast geo-political zone have been emphatic that they will not tolerate cattle colonies on their territories, saying it was a source and point of conflict with the natives and farmers. At a recent meeting in Enugu, with other stakeholders, the governors also resolved to restrain the movement of cattle and herdsmen as well as ban herdsmen who move about with AK 47 guns and cutlasses.
However, Alhaji Giddado Sadiq, the Macban in the southeast geo-political zone, said it was a welcome development, since the governors were chief security officers of their respective states. He also disputed the allegation that herders in the zone were immigrants, adding that all the Fulani cattle rearers in the southeast are bonafide Nigerians.
Alhaji Sadiq added: “We are their subjects also, so we have to abide by that as they have accommodated us. We don’t have problem with them and it won’t affect our businesses.”
He pointed out that the cattle menace committee in Anambra State has embarked on the enumeration or data capturing of livestock breeders for safety and peaceful coexistence with farmers. Under the programme, anyone found to have infringed the law will be identified with the matter brought to the attention of Macban and the local tradition ruler.
Alhaji Sadiq added: “You know there are instances in the country where the farmers and herders clash and no one can identify those involved but with this data capturing, one can easily identify those involved. We have a cattle menace control committee in Anambra, a peace and security committee in Enugu, a cattle resolution committee in Ebonyi and other measures in Abia and Imo states.
“These committees adopted different measures that enhance peaceful coexistence of farmers and herders. With this, once there is a former complaints of the destruction of cattle or farmlands, the committee will access and evaluate the level of damages done, then the person or persons involve will pay adequate compensation to those whose cattle or farmlands were affected.”