From Uche Usim Abuja
Fulani pastoralists rose from a meeting on Tuesday with a call on the federal government to give them adequate protection and support as the continued killing of their members remains a recipe for genocide.
The herders spoke on the platform of the Coalition of Pastoralists Association (CPAN), an umbrella organisation of pastoralists groups in Nigeria, which seeks to promote peace and enhance the welfare of its members.
According to them, Fulani herders have come under sustained attacks in recent times, as their businesses were destroyed by natural and man-made disasters.
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, the President Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Baba Othman Ngelzarma said the plight of the herders has been worsened by the conspiratorial silence of the government, as many Nigerians, especially sub-national entities, have adopted the culture of intolerance towards Fulanis and the business of cattle rearing.
He said:”The recent airstrikes on Tuesday 24th January 2023 at Akwanaja village of Rukubi Ward, Doma LGA of Nasarawa State killed at least 32 Fulani herders, 15 Hausa drivers and truck boys while unloading trucks of cattle. Another 62 sustained various degrees of injuries, some life threatening. Before the incident, ‘Benue State Livestock Guards’ had raided and confisticated 1,254 cows at Rukubi, Nasarawa-Benue border communities in Doma LGA of Nasarawa State. The guards insisted that the herders should pay hefty penalties running to millions. A negotiated ransom of N27 million was agreed between the Fulani owners of the confiscated cattle and the Benue State government. The herders obtained a loan from commercial banks.
“On the 3rd of December, 2022, soldiers killed innocent pastoralists in Rugan Waziri, at Rafin Sarkin Fatika village.
“Similarly Fulbe pastoralists are victims of killings and cattle rustling at Rafi, Shiroro, Munya, Mashegu and Borgu Local Governments of Niger State. Between October 2022 to December 2023, a total of 75 pastoralists were killed, while over 900 cattle were rustled.
“Vigilante Groups on the payroll and support of the Taraba State Government have killed at least 314 pastoralists between October 2022 to 16th January 2023. Over 5000 cattle rustled while houses/settlements burnt down and agricultural produce looted”, he said.
Ngelzerma said the group wants the immediate admittance of responsibility by the Nigerian military, unreserved apology and condolences to the families of the deceased pastoralists.
“The immediate proscription, disbandment, arrest and prosecution of leaders and members of Ortom’s Tiv tribal militia otherwise referred to as Benue State Livestock Guards.
“The empaneling of an independent judicial commission of enquiry to identify, investigate, arrest and prosecute all individuals and entities involved in the murder, expulsion, cattle rustling, livestock kidnapping and extortion of our members in Benue and neighboring States since 2017 when the Anti-Open Grazing Law was enacted and enforced in Benue State”, he said.