Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Youth leaders in the South-east zone have warned the leaders of Miyetti Allah Kante Hore against any plan to appropriate forests and bushes in the zone for Fulani settlements.
The youth leaders under the aegis of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) issued the warning in a statement signed by its national president, Chief Goodluck Egwu Ibem. It was in response to the position of the leader of Fulani herdsmen on the ownership of natural resources in the South-east.
Chairman of Miyetti Allah, Abdullahi Bodejo had reportedly asserted that forests and bushes in the South-east belonged neither to Ohanaeze Ndigbo nor the state governors of the zone hence they lacked the power to restrict herders from occupying the forests.
“We condemn the unguarded outburst by the national chairman of Miyetti Kante Hore, Abdullahi Bodejo,” the youth leaders said, adding that the “arrogant and callous” statement was meant to undermine the leaders and people of the South-east.
“For Bodejo to say we don’t own the bushes and forests, he is indirectly telling us that we are not natives and owners of South East zone,” COSEYL said.
They asked Bodejo to explain if the forests and bushes in the South-east belong to him and his Fulani herdsmen as implied in his statement.
“Bodejo’s statement has just confirmed our earlier suspicion of their proposal to establish a Fulani vigilante as a Greek gift. Their aim is to overrun our land and communities and turn them into Fulani settlements and cattle colony,” the youth leaders said.
The youth leaders recalled that the leaders of Miyetti Allah and other Northern leaders had lauded the South-east governors when they proscribed the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who are unarmed agitators.
“Bodejo and other Northern leaders lauded the South East Governors and said that what they did what in order and that they have all the powers to determine what happens in their states as the Executive Governors .
“But now that the same South East Governors have taken a bold step to curb the activities and menace of the rapists and murderous pastoralists who are causing untold hardship to farmers by destroying their crops and killing of innocent citizens of the region .
“The same people have turned around to say that the South East Governors elected by the people lack the powers to determine what happens in their states.
“If lands, bushes and forests are not owned by people in the north, here in South East , people own those bushes and forests. No forest or bush is without an owner,” the COSEYL stated.
The group therefore warned Bodejo to stop making statements that will destroy the existing peace in this country.
COSEYL reiterated its position “there is no available land for RUGA in South East zone. Those people who are in cattle business should fund their businesses and leave the federal government out of their private businesses.
“We make bold to say that the ban on movement of cattle by foot is banned in the South East and so it is. Period”.
The coalition of youth leaders asked Bodejo and fellow herdsmen to make use of the Sambisa forest given to them by the Borno State Governor to establish their RUGA.