â€¢ Says anti-grazing bill is an invitation to anarchy
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Fulani social-cultural association, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, has called on the federal government to set up an independent judicial panel of inquiry into what it described as the â€˜gruesome murderâ€™ against the Fulani herdsmen in the Mambila PlateauÂ in Taraba State.
The group said the killings which started some weeks ago, have led to theÂ massacre of over 250 women and children, as well as the displacement of over 15,000 families and destruction of over 4,000 livestock.
The National Secretary of the group, Mr. Saleh Alhassan, made the call at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja where he said the organisation would not fold its arms and allow the killings to continue.
According to him, â€œI want to condemn this organised massacre against innocent Fulani pastoralists in the Mambila plateau, which was orchestrated by the political leaders in the state because they are behind this gruesome murder of over 250 women and children,Â destruction of over 4,000 livestock, and displacement of over 15,000 families, most of them are now refugees in Cameroon.
â€œWe want to state that as an organisation,Â we will not fold our arms to allowÂ politicians to continue to organise this kind of massacre against our people.Â We have already intimated human rights bodies both locally and internationally via our petitions on the unprovoked massacre of our people,â€ he added.
Alhassan explained that the group would take appropriate legal means toÂ demand justice and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
The national secretary stated: â€œWe want an independent judicial commission of inquiry from the federal level because theÂ Taraba State Government is guilty and they cannot be a judge in their own case. We want a panel of enquiry to investigate the cause of this crisis and then punish them adequately because we donâ€™t want a situation where tomorrow, this crisis will degenerate,Â and then people will be wondering why do we have crisis in that Â Mambila plateau.â€
While the group appreciated the efforts of the security agencies, especially the Nigerian Army and the police, it emphasised that the terrain of the area would make it difficult for a detachment of military or police to restore law and order.
Baring his mind on the anti-grazing bills being proposed by some state governments, Alhassan described them as an invitation to anarchy.
â€œYou cannot legislate against an economic interest when you have not put an alternative in place. The whole of the cattle we consume in this country is a product of open grazing, and everydayÂ we consume thousands upon thousands. Ranching is an elitist form of cattle rearing,Â even our elite that have looted government money, how many of them own ranches?, he queried.
He said those clamouring for ranching areÂ either illiterate about the whole thing or they are being deliberately mischievous andÂ want to trigger crisis.
â€œThat anti-grazing bill is a recipe for crisis. If you say you are going to legislate against the economic interest of the Fulani pastoralists in this country; then, invariably you are setting an action that will lead to the collapse of this Nigeria state. Iâ€™m telling you with all emphasis because you canâ€™t wake up and tell us we should put our cattle in a ranch, where is the ranch, when we have grazing reserves that have been taking over. It is not an option. Anybody throwing ranching to us will know that he is just inviting anarchy,â€ Alhassan stated.