Willy Eya And Rose Ejembi
Socio-cultural groups across the country are on edge following reports of plans by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to establish vigilance groups in the 36 states of the federation.
The development came amid fears in many quarters that the plan smacks of a hidden expansionist agenda for the interest of the Fulani tribe.
The plan to establish the vigilance groups came on the heels of another controversy that President Buhammadu Buhari had purportedly approved the creation of Ruga settlements in the country with the pilot scheme first in 12 states of the federation. The settlements are to be where herders will live, grow their cattle and produce milk.
Speaking on the development, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin said the South West zone has made it very clear that it will not accept such vigilance group in Yoruba land. He said: “The Yoruba just rose from Ibadan now(Thursday) where the autobiography of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was launched and part of the resolutions of that meeting was that no inch of any Yoruba land will be allowed for the Ruga settlement and not to talk of the Fulani vigilance group. It will not happen on our soil.”
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo also said that the zone would not allow the establishment of vigilance groups in any part of Igbo land. The Public Relations Officer of the organisation, Uche Okpaga said no reasonable person will handover the security of his house to his enemy.
He said: “Can I come and put security in your house without your consent? How will it work? You do not bring the enemy and make him the security officer of your House. Herdsmen are turning to something else. They kidnap people, kill people, rape people’s wives. They have turned to terrorists. They carry out all sorts of criminal activities against people around them.
“How can you have such kind of people as your security officers? It does not obtain anywhere. It is just that in Nigeria, anything goes. We do not want such vigilance groups and we are not allowing them except the government wants to impose it on us. It proves what some people are saying that they are trying to Islamise the country. That means that we will have no option than to resort to self-help.”
In the South East, he said, every state has her own vigilance security network.
“These people are working with the Police and other security agencies to maintain peace and you can agree with me that there is relative peace in the zone and you want to bring foreigners to intimidate them and create tension in the region.”
Also in his reaction, President General of the umbrella Tiv socio-cultural Organization, Mzough U Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege said if such vigilance group is allowed, it would be undermining the authority of the state government in those states. Ujege noted that it is only the governor of any state that has the constitutional responsibility of securing lives and property of the citizens and not any other group from anywhere.
He said if the Federal Government allows the Miyetti Allah organisation to establish such vigilance group in the South, then it means it is setting up a second government in the country, which shouldn’t be.
The Mzough U Tiv leader who urged people of the South never to accept the planned Miyetti Allah vigilance group in their domains said rather than such, the Federal Government should better consider the call for the establishment of state police in all states of the federation.
Environmental and human rights activist, Annkio Brigs advised Southerners to stop eating cow meat and cautioned that an Islamisation agenda has started in Nigeria. She said that people of the Niger Delta will not allow the establishment of vigilance groups in the oil-rich region. She said it is a clarion call to the governors and lawmakers to live up to their responsibility, saying the Niger Delta also totally reject the establishment of the Ruga settlements.