By Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto
The leader of coalition of Fulani herdsmen groups in Nigeria, Alhaji Saleh Bayari, has appealed to the federal government to grant unconditional amnesty to their members detained over various criminal allegations in the country.
Bayari made the call yesterday at a National Delegates meeting of coalition of Fulani Associations from 36 states of the federation and the FCT held in Sokoto.
He said the federal government should consider amnesty to Fulani people accused of crimes as it was done to agitators in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
“About 3,000 Fulani clans are in detention at different security formations in the country.
“Poverty, neglect and poor treatment from fellow Nigerians forced those accused persons to engage in dastardly acts,” Bayari said.
He explained that about 2,500 pastoralists were killed, while 3.7 million livestock were either killed or rustled from the herdsmen at various states of the federation, the situation that subjected members to untold hardships.
He pointed out that granting them amnesty would allow leaders to unite their fellows and partner with authorities to sanction any member found engaging in any unlawful activities.
In the communiqué read by Bayari at the end of the event, the coalition commended Amnesty International 2018 report that said about 3, 641 persons lost their lives in farmers/herdsmen conflicts in Nigeria.
The coalition groups also dissociated themselves from some Fulani unions’ endorsement of a particular presidential candidate in the forthcoming general election. They described the endorsement as dangerous noting that their associations were social, non-political and none partisan aimed at uplifting Fulani interests.
The groups said the endorsement was not in the interest of generality of Fulani herdsmen as neither consultations nor meetings were held prior to the decision.
The associations directed their members to disregard the endorsement and elect any candidate of their choice as guaranteed by the constitution.
It also reminded herdsmen to consider the credibility and suitability of candidates as well as the leader that has regard and care about their plights.
According to the groups, about 17 million pastoralists are in Nigeria and that while government disburses subsidy and support to farmers, headsmen obtained nothing in past four years.
The coalition accused the federal government of not doing enough for Fulani herdsmen in recognition that they were marginalised in the present disbursement of Tradermoni scheme initiative and others.
The groups alleged that the present administration had neglected them on agricultural support schemes, concentrating mostly on grain, poultry and fish farming.
The groups further explained that the meeting was organised to exchange thoughts and ideas and possible ways of librating the Fulani herdsmen to come out to speak with one tongue.
They also said the laws banning cattle grazing were unconstitutional that violated human rights while noting that the moves to establish cattle ranches and colonies were yet to come to reality.
The coalition further stated that President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar are all Fulani men and urged members to elect who showed concerns on pastoralists’ plights and their economic development as well as engaged on “Ruga to Ruga” consultation campaign.