… As FG plans to revive 22 grazing reserves
By Our Repoters
Angry voices have continued to rise over last Thursday’s attack, by suspected Fulani herdsmen, on Ndiagu Attakwu community in Nkanu-West Local Government Area of Enugu State that left a seminarian and a woman dead, and three others critically wounded.
With the reported death of the second victim of the attack, the Councillors’ Forum, an association of former and current Councillor’s in the state has called for an immediate ban on grazing in the state.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after their visit of the community, leader of the Councillors Forum Hon. Chidiebere Oko, noted that the situation has become so serious that it should no longer be treated with kid gloves.
“Just as we condemn the act, we cannot continue to fold our arms not knowing what tomorrow has in stock. This is getting out of hand and it is time to act. We have, thus, decided as a body, to call for an immediate ban on any form of grazing across the length and breadth of Enugu State.” Oko said.
He called on the state House of Assembly to urgently make a legislation outlawing grazing in Enugu State “be it by Fulani people or any other person for that matter.”
Reacting to the attack, the Senate Committee Chairman on Communications, Gilbert Nnaji, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on activities of herders in the country, while others, including the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), and Igbo Ohanaeze Media Forum have called for various measures ranging from introduction of bills criminalising indiscriminate grazing to outright ban of buying and selling of cow meat by the Igbos.
The Senator, while condoling with families of the victims, warned that until governments at all levels recognise the menace as a national concern, all the public outcries would amount to nothing.
He added that apart from ensuring that the perpetrators of this dastardly act are brought to book as a deterrent to further attacks, the Federal Government should come up with stringent measures to tackle the issue once and for all, in the interest of the country.
The senator had made a similar call while contributing to the motion, at the senate in April this year, on the massacre of the people of Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu.
Describing the killings as callous and provocative, the Civil Liberties Organisation, (CLO), South-East Zone, urged the governors of the states that make up the zone to sponsor bills in the state Houses of Assembly that would make it a criminal offence for herdsmen to engage in indiscriminate grazing within the zone.
A statement signed by the South-East zonal Chairman of the body, Comrade Aloysius Attah, described the incessant killings by herdsmen as an act of barbarism and terrorism against Igbo people.
In its own reaction, Ohanaeze Media Forum (OMF), the umbrella body said to be made of Igbo journalists called on Ndigbo in every part of the country to shun cow meat as a way of registering their displeasure over the incessant killing of their kits and kins by Fulani herdsmen.
In a communiqué issued at the end of their emergency meeting in Lagos and signed by Chidiadi Elendu and Ngozi Emedoluibe chairman and secretary respectively, the body called on traditional rulers in the South East to ban the use of cow meat in any festival activity in Igbo land.
“When everybody begins to shun cow meat the herdsmen would realize that they no longer have business in Igbo land and would leave,” it noted.
Joining in the call for self-protection, another Igbo body, Igbo Awareness for Development Initiatives (IADI), urged the South East communities to defend and protect themselves from future attacks.
A public statement issued by the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the group, Chief Larry Ilo, also called for a setting up of vigilantes in different localities of Igbo land.
In a related development, the Federal Government has commenced the process of reviving about 22 grazing reserves across the country. To this end, nine states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been earmarked for the pilot programme beginning with advocacy, sensitisation and mobilisation on development of grazing reserves and stock routes.
The programme, which took off in Adamawa State recently, was to engender buy in by the respective communities to mitigate the frequent cases of herders and farmers’ clashes which had led to loss of several lives; including property and cattle.
A new UK-Department for International Development (DFID) funded research by the global humanitarian organisation; Mercy Corps, said that Nigeria loses about $14m (N4b) to disputes between farmers and pastoralists in the middle belt states of Benue, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Plateau.
It noted that skirmishes between famers and pastoralists typically arise from disputes over the use of resources such as farmland, grazing areas and water.
Daily Sun gathered that the advocacy campaign being organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in partnership with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) would cover Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe (North east), Zamfara, Jigawa and Katsina (Nort- West) and FCT, Niger and Kaduna (North-Central); while Oyo is the only state in the South West; no state is involved in the South-East and South South geo-political zones.
It was also gathered that the advocacy campaign is a prelude to the final implementation of the grazing reserves development programme whereby the Federal Government would develop infrastructure; fencing the reserves, create access routes, provide boreholes, build dams and develop the pasture in at least 50 hectares in the 10 grazing reserves.
No fewer than 14 states have reportedly donated 5,000 hectares of land each for the development of grazing reserves but the action has been roundly criticized in states like Taraba, Kaduna and Plateau. Many Nigerians prefer the establishment of ranches; which they say is the modern way of cattle rearing.