IPOB’s attacks on herders portend grave danger to Nigeria’s unity, 2023 elections – Miyetti Allah

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From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

Fulani pastoralists advocacy group Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) warned on Monday that the recent unprovoked attacks on herders by persons suspected to be the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East portend grave danger to the unity of the country and particularly the 2023 general elections.

Addressing reporters in Abuja, the leader of the association, Saleh Alhassan, who lamented the increasing spate of attacks on members, including setting ablaze a truckload of cows, cautioned that the trend is capable of escalating the insecurity situation ahead of the general elections.

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He also accused some state governments of collecting funds for ranching and refusing to deploy it into use, announcing that the herders are ready to adopt the ranching option.

“We are calling on the governors particularly of southeastern Nigeria to protect our people and their businesses in their states. Because as we gradually move toward the 2023 election we are seeing heightened aggression against our peace-loving herders in the southern part of the country.

“And this portends grievous danger to the unity of this country, and even to the successful conduct of the forthcoming elections if these threats are not nipped in the bud. We also viewed the continuous deterioration of security in our rural areas where you have bandits who have taken over most of the ungoverned spaces, and only unleashing terror on our communities, particularly in states like Zamfara, part of Niger State and we call on the security to redouble their efforts in ensuring that there is peace in our rural areas,” he warned.

Asked the number of casualties in terms of herders and cattle attacked by IPOB, he said: “The latest attacks that prompted this emergency press conference just happened yesterday. And we have alerted our members, our leadership in the South East to take stock of the number of cattle killed and possible lives lost. The truck that was set ablaze is all over social media. And we see a full load of cattle, a truck taking about 30 cows.

“Aside isolated cases of killings of herders going on, particularly in southeastern Nigeria by the terrorist group led by the detained Nnamdi Kanu IPOB because it portends grave danger. Because we will not fold our arms to continue to watch an outlawed organisation killing our people in the Southeast. That is why we are calling on the security agencies to urgently take action to arrest the situation. Because we don’t want people to take laws into their hands,” he said.

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Speaking further, he said: “Our association equally condemn the official cattle rustling going on in Benue state under the leadership of Governor Samuel Ortom; who has set up a squad of so-called livestock guards that have been seizing cattle from herders across Taraba and Nasarawa State borders to be auctioned periodically in the state.

“Just last week, 320 herds of cows were auctioned by agents of the governor in the state rendering the owners of those cattle jobless without anything to feed on. We are calling on the federal government to intervene to make sure those cattle are paid for and to call Governor Ortom to order.

“We also want to use this opportunity to call on our members to continue to maintain peace, and respect to constituted authorities despite all these unprovoked assaults on our economy, which is the cattle rearing,” he said.

Confirming the sitting on the grazing fund, he said: “We hope the government will make good its intention of policies that have been pronouncing to assist the pastoralists to settle down because, till date, we have not seen any ranch that they have promised us. We are asking where are the ranches, in spite of the humongous amounts of money that have been released, purported to have been released particularly to some state governors. So, we want you to help us to ask these governors, where are the ranches for the monies they have collected. I thank you once again.

On the evidence that the government has released money for state government and the name of the states, he said: “It’s all over the media. Nasarawa State Government, Katsina State, Kaduna State, and Plateau State, have collected money for ranching. States like Niger are also in the line of collecting money for ranching. We are yet to see the ranches because we don’t want the state governors to use the misery and the hardship of the pastoralist to continue to divert these funds.

“Because we really need to address this issue of farmer-herder conflict, which we believe a sustainable land use management, which is through the ranching will be a solution for the crisis. On how much money FG voted for that project, I can say that I don’t have the exact figure, but I know some states have collected up to N4 billion, N5 billion. It is what we can find out? It’s all in the public domain,” he insisted.