Attacks on Herders in South-east Threat to 2023 Elections, Miyetti Allah Warns

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) has warned that unwarranted attacks on its members, especially in the South-east, constitute a major threat to the 2023 elections.

The Secretary General of MAKH, Mr. Saleh Alhassan, disclosed this yesterday while addressing a press conference in Abuja, following Sunday’s attack by unknown gunmen  on a truck carrying cattle in Ezinifite community in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, setting it ablaze.

Saleh warned that the attack on herders especially in South-east allegedly by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) portend a great danger, saying the association would not fold its hands while such attacks go on.

He stated: “We are calling on governors particularly of South-eastern Nigeria to protect our people and their businesses in their states. As we gradually move towards the 2023 elections, we are seeing heightened aggression against our peace-loving herders in southern part of the country.

“And this portends grievous danger to the unity of this country and even to the successful conduct of the forthcoming elections if these threats are not nipped in the bud.

“We will not fold our arms to continue to watch an outlawed organisation killing our people in the South-east. That’s why we’re calling on the security agencies to urgently take action to arrest the situation because we don’t want people to take laws into their hands.”

Miyetti Allah also condemned what it described as “official cattle rusttling” going on in Benue State under the leadership of Governor Samuel Ortom.

It stated categorically that its members are not part of the bandits wreaking havoc in the country.

It said: “Then on the issue of our members being part of the insecurity. Let me state it without any doubt. Our members are not part of the bandits. Please take it for the records. We are a herders’ organisation. If you are a bandit, you don’t have herds of cows. You are a bandit who should be treated as a bandit.

“But our headers who share the same geographical location because of their economic activity in the villages in the bushes in the forest, they are the first victims of these bandits. They have been suffering without anybody reporting it without any restitution coming to them. So we are not part of the bandits. We don’t know them. We don’t belong to them. We don’t support them in any way. And we are in active collaboration with the government to deal with the bandits because they are destroying our economy.”

The group said Ortom set up livestock guards that had been seizing cattle from herders across Taraba and Nasarawa State borders to be auctioned periodically in the state.

According to him, “just last week 320 herds of cows were auctioned by agents of the governor in the state rendering the owners of those cattle jobless without anything to feed on. We are calling on the federal government to intervene to make sure those cattle are paid for and to call Governor Ortom to order.”

The Miyetti Allah added: “We will take legal actions against those perpetrating acts of violence against our people. We will also take actions against the ineptitude of the government of the day for allowing all these injustice and atrocities to be meted out to our people on the issue of the official rustling of our cattle in Benue.

“We’re already taking the stock, and we’re going to sue the Benue state government to pay compensation for all those stolen cattle officially, in the name of arresting cattle across the borders of Benue and Taraba state, Benue and Nasarawa State. Because as far as we are concerned, there is no cattle herding in Benue since Ortom put in his law.”

Miyetti Allah expressed worry that in spite of humongous amount of money budgeted for ranching by the federal government, no progress has been made, while warning that state governors should not use the mystery of herders to divert funds meant for ranching.

It said: “We are asking where are the ranches, in spite of the humongous amounts of money that have been released, purported to have been released particularly to some state governors. So we want the gentlemen of the press, to help us to ask these governors, where are the ranches for the monies they have collected. I thank you once again.

“We are yet to see the ranches because we don’t want the state governors to use the mysery and the hardship of the pastoralist to continue to divert these funds. Because we really need to address this issue of farmer-herder conflict, which we believe a sustainable land use management, which is through the ranching will be a solution for the crisis.” 

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