Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN) has protested the gesture of the federal government towards rebuilding of destroyed settlements of farmers in Benue State as announced by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during his visit to the state, warning that “it could send wrong signal that herdsmen have already been accused, tried and sentenced by the federal government and are being collectively singled out and punished.”
In a statement, signed by the group’s National Chairman, Alhaji Sale Bayari, the Fulani said: “What we do know is that hundreds of thousands of our members’ cows were confiscated, rustled, killed and vandalised by tribal militants and livestock guards established by the grazing reserve law.
“Reports at our disposal show that these cattle belonged to the innocent Fulani herders who have nothing to live on, and are likely to resort to all desperate means in other to survive, having lost irretrievably, their only means of survival.”
Bayari observed: “Society is at great risk when government only addresses a problem selectively and one-sidedly, thereby giving the impression that it is a father to only one family. The other neglected family may be hurt and decide to be uncooperative. In the unfortunate situation, like the one we have in Benue State, the government must be fair and just to all, so that there must be no victor and no vanquish so that equity brings back love, peace and tranquility.”
GAFDAN urged the federal government to include the herdsmen in its programme of humanitarian assistance, adding that “the mere fact that the herdsmen are not in Benue State internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps do not mean that they have not lost their homes and their only mono-trade means of livelihood, which is cattle rearing in the conflict.”
Bayari admonished government and all well-meaning Nigerians to treat the Benue conflict, and indeed other conflicts across the country with fairness.
“It is our position that the plight of the herdsmen that lost 2,500 herds of cattle be looked into, with a view to assisting them as well,” he added.