By Idowu Bankole
The National President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) Alhaji Muhammadu Kiruwa has, on Monday, said that Fulani Herders across the Southwest region are worse victims of killings, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities in the region.
Kiruwa was reacting to a series of allegations of killings, rape and banditry levelled against Fulani herders breeding cattle in the Southwest region, which has led to ultimatums issued by a Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Igboho and the Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, asking the herders operating in the forest reserve to vacate the states.
But at a peace meeting in Ondo state, the President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) Alhaji Muhammadu Kiruwa insisted that herdsmen are worse hit.
Kiruwa stated that over 5 million cows have been rustled and ten thousand pastoralists killed so far in the region, leading to various forms of criminalities by underaged herders in order to protect their wealth.
He noted that dialogue should be resorted to rather than violence in finding a peaceful solution to the farmer/herders crisis rocking the southwest region which the herdsmen are also victims.
He stated this at a meeting in Ondo state with Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Nigeria Governors Forum, security agencies and other stakeholders in South-west.
He noted that ensuring lasting peace would involve sensitisation of herders on the need to be sensitive to their host communities by promoting peaceful co-existence.
He said ” We believe dialogue is key in achieving peaceful co-existence. We assure their Excellencies (governors of south-west) that we will continue with our awareness campaign to our members to appreciate the sensibilities of their host communities by ensuring they live in peace.
Kiruwa lamented the herders’ plight of insecurity insisting they are not spared in the insecurity situation bedevilling the region as the Cattle Breeders Association has lost a number of members to banditry, kidnapping and other criminality in the region.
“The menace of Banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping emerged as a result of poor management of farmer /herder conflict that gave rise to cattle rustling thus giving birth to kidnapping and later banditry.
” In all these, our members are the worse victims and also culprits. To date over 10,000 pastoralists have been killed as a result of Farmer herder conflicts and in protecting their wealth/families against cattle rustlers, kidnappers and bandits.
“Over 5 million cows have been lost to these incidents. These vices had made the pastoralist youth easy prey for initiation into criminality.
On recent destruction of properties in Oyo state, Kiruwa condemned the action, saying people should not take laws to their hands, rather seek peaceful resolutions. He urged the Oyo state government to fish out perpetrators of the act and compensate families of herdsmen that have lost properties.
He said “We find it distasteful and dangerous the recent incidence in Oyo where people are allowed to take laws into their hands by killing and burning properties at will.
” The Government should come down heavily on perpetrators of such acts and provide immediate palliatives to the families of people who lost their lives and properties in order to ease their frustrations.
He stated that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria is ready to always dialogue with aggrieved persons in order to resolve the crisis.
“We are open to working with the forum in designing what we think can work in solving these problems.
“We condemn all sorts of criminality, extrajudicial killings and the impunity that is associated with it. Once more, we reiterate that MACBAN has never and will not condone any form of criminality by whoever.