From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Following the insistence of the Federal Government in establishing 368 grazing routes in 25 states of the federation, some youths and groups in South East Nigeria have vowed to resist the move.
The Igbo National Movement (INM) and the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) in separate statements they released to reporters in Owerri on Wednesday condemned the move and warned against its implementation in Igbo land.
INM National Director Anthony Olisa Okolo viewed the action of the Federal Government as deliberate encouragement of militant Fulani herdsmen to further perpetuate violence in new areas.
‘INM categorically asserts that no grazing routes exist in Igboland, we urge the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to steer clear of extending this desperation to seize lands for Fulani Herdsmen away from Igboland,’ Okolo stated.
‘In Igboland, open grazing of whatever domestic livestock is abhorred and in most communities’ sanctions are placed against owners of livestock found openly grazing or loitering in the community.
‘Buhari’s desperation encourages brazen conducts by Fulani herdsmen across Nigeria, INM is deeply worried by the fact that the continuing efforts by the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to appropriate lands belonging to other indigenous ethnic nationalities in Nigeria for the benefit of Fulani Herdsmen are directly encouraging the said Fulani Herdsmen to act in audaciously brazen manners across Nigeria.
‘Acting in manners to suggest they are above the laws and basically getting away with the commission of mass atrocities,’ Okolo lamented.
He further stated that the initial proposals of Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA), National Live Stock Transformation Plan(NLTP) and the Waterways Bill were a clear indication that the Federal Government had its mind made up hurry, despite the public outcry that greeted the projects.
‘A close scrutiny of the various land-grab schemes of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration reveals a very uncanny desire to appropriate lands belonging to other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria for the interest of Fulani Herdsmen, putting a lie-badge on Mr President’s avowal during his inauguration in 2015 that “I am for nobody and for everybody”.
‘First, it was the “Grazing Routes”, which the President and his Minister of Defense claimed, the blockage of which was the cause of the atrocities being perpetrated by Fulani Herdsmen militia against indigenous mainly in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria; thereafter came the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) Settlement Project wherein each state of the federation was to carve out a minimum acreage for use of Fulani Herdsmen.
‘Then followed the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), same old wine of using public resources to forcefully appropriate lands for Fulani Herdsmen; the highly obnoxious ‘Nigeria Waterways Bill’ which sought to bring all rivers and their surrounding banks within the control of the Federal Government (also in direct contrast with the provisions of the Land Use Act; and now this latest brainwave of a rephrased ‘Grazing Route’ with the President and his handlers coming up with an imaginary 368 such routes. Like the schemes before, it, this too must fail,’ Okolo stated.
President General of COSEYL Goodluck Ibem on his own part while condemning the grazing routes said Igbo youths are disappointed with the President for not concentrating on the fight against banditry and terrorism instead giving his nod to the creation of grazing routes in the country.
‘We condemn in strongest terms the approval for review of 368 grazing routes with dispatch by President Muhammadu Buhari despite the condemnation by Nigerians against it,’ Ibem said in the statement.
‘This is an intentional show of wicked ignorance by the president whose interest should be what will bring peace and security.
‘The President has not done anything to address the killings in Benue State and other states in the country nor has he addressed the assassination attempt on the life of the Executive Governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom by his Fulani kinsmen, but he is rather interested in how to acquire land through the back door for his Fulani kinsmen,’ Ibem stated.