Exercise Cat Race encourages influx of herdsmen, cattle into Benue – Livestock commander
Job Osazuwa; Linus Oota, Lafia; Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF), at the weekend, met with leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) in a bid to find lasting solution to clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers across the country.
The meeting, which held in Sokoto, was attended by NSGF Chairman and Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima, the host, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and their counterparts from Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje and Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai.
The governors and breeders discussed the genesis of the crisis, efforts to contain and prevent its recurrence.
Shettima said the 19 northern states were worried over the rising cases of insecurity involving herders and farmers and expressed optimism that their intervention would pave the way for a lasting peace.
He said they intervened to complement the Federal Government’s efforts and disclosed that they plan to adopt local-conflict resolution mechanism to restore trust and understanding among everyone in the region.
“We have seen enough crises in the North East with Boko Haram. We cannot let any other conflict linger without a solution. We hope to hear from all sides and finally come up with a workable plan that will restore confidence and entrench lasting peace in our region,” he said.
A source who revealed the position of MACBAN after the meeting, said: “The leadership of Miyetti Allah, led by the National President, Muhammed Kirowa, said the approach to conflict resolution adopted by political leaders in some states is not helpful in finding a lasting peace.
“In his views, political leaders, especially governors, should approach issues of peace in neutral perspective, not as a biased party. He said their members have lived in many of these conflict-prone communities for centuries without conflict, but wondered why the situation is getting out of hand now.”
More rounds of discussions are said to be scheduled to hold in Abuja, Jos, Makurdi and Kaduna in later dates.
Meanwhile, Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, said arrangements have reach advanced stage for the massive reconstruction and rehabilitation of villages destroyed by the herdsmen.
More than 50 villages were destroyed while over 100 people were displaced during the January/February 2018 herdsmen attacks on Tiv farmers in Nasarawa State.
Speaking to over 60,000 IDPs in Kadarko and Agyaragu, Keana and Obi local government areas of the state, at the weekend, the governor said government feels the pains of the IDPs who are now refugees in their home state.
The governor, who donated relief materials worth over N100 million and cash to the IDPs, assured that his government would do its possible best to ensure their safe return to their villages.
“We are here on behalf of the government of the state to commissirate with you over the loss of your relatives during the attacks. We are fully aware of what you are going through, which money cannot solve; what we brought to you is not the solution to your problems, but just an intervention.
“What I consider as the solution is for you to go back peacefully to your homes. My concern at the movement is to join hands with the police, the military and other security agencies to ensure nobody migrates to your homes, as well as ensure constant security surveillance.
“We are going to embark on massive reconstruction and rehabilitation of all the villages and houses destroyed by the herdsmen” he said.
Items donated by the governor include 110 bags of rice, 45 mattresses and blankets, 40 bags of beans, 100 bags of maize, 45 bags of garri, 250 wrappers and shelders as we’ll as cartons of indomie, liptons, sugar, sanitary pads and powder milk, among others, in addition to cash donations of N7 million.
In another development, Commander of Benue State Livestock, Gua Aliyu Tershaku, has blamed the ongoing Nigeria Army Exercise, Ayem Akpatuma (Cat Race), in the state, for the current influx of the Fulani herdsmen into the state.
Tershaku, who stated this in a chat with newsmen at the weekend, lamented that the herdsmen and their cattle are now occupying larger part of Benue communities which had been deserted by the locals as a result of the incessant invasion, despite the presence of police special forces and the military.
He explained that before the commencement of the exercise by Nigeria Army, Livestock Guards, under his leadership, were able to identify and check the activities of herdsmen who were not comfortable with the anti open grazing law and were bent on causing unrest.
“Those set of herdsmen were leaving the state before the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) came out publicly to oppose the implementation of the grazing law using the power that be.
Tershaku alleged that powerful opposition politicians in the country have teamed up with the leadership of opposition MAKH to cause confusion and discredit what Governor Ortom had done to protect his people and other Nigerians.
“Politicians in Nigeria are more dangerous, worse than HIV and AIDS. This is because HIV and AIDS kill you once and for all, but Nigerian politicians will first condemn you, kill you and destroy your soul such that nothing would ever remain out of you.
“Now they have tagged me one of the wanted Boko Haram leaders who escaped and now heading livestock guard in Benue. Let me put the record straight, l have no links with Boko Haram,” he said.