Following the executive order given by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to Fulani herdsmen illegally occupying the state’s forest reserves to vacate within seven days, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, yesterday, conceded to the demands of South-West Governors.
Governor Akeredolu had insisted that unless the herders are registered with the state government to operate in the reserves, they will be dislodged in seven days. They actually started registering yesterday, following the peace meeting brokered by the Presidency.
This development came on a day some prominent Yoruba leaders warned the South West governors not to negotiate the continued stay of Fulani herders, saying they should all toe the path of Governor Akeredolu by issuing eviction notices to violent herders in their states.
This is even as Yoruba activist, Mr. Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Igboho, insisted yesterday that Yoruba cannot live like slaves in their own land and vowed to contain the criminal activities of herdsmen across the region.
Also looking at the growing resentment against the activities of some armed herdsmen across the country, Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman, called on the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to take steps to implement the report of the Nasir el-Rufai Committee on True Federalism.
Similarly, the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, said the South West geo-political zone alone could not address the security challenges facing the region, noting that only a collective national approach would resolve the farmers/herders’ clashes.
On his part, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, also advised Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to be more proactive and decisive in handling the security situation in the state.
Speaking at the meeting, National President of MACBAN, Alhaji Kiruwa, warned herders to desist from taking their cows to people’s farms for grazing.
Kiruwa said: “I want to plead with all our members to avoid allowing cows straying into farms, they should stop small boys, as a matter of urgency, from going to graze; also, night grazing must stop either in Ondo State, South-West or across the country.
“This is one of the reasons we have herders and farmers clashes. This has always been causing conflicts between farmers and herders. I can assure you of our support and cooperation.”
On the quit order given by Governor Akeredolu, he said: “We believe dialogue is key in achieving peaceful co-existence. We assure their Excellencies that we will continue with our awareness campaign to our members to appreciate the sensibilities of their host communities by ensuring they live in peace.
“The menace of banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping emerged as a result of poor management of farmers/herders’ conflicts that gave rise to cattle rustling, thus giving birth to kidnapping, and later banditry.
“In all of these, our members are the worse victims and also culprits. To date, over 10,000 pastoralists have been killed as a result of farmers/herders’ conflicts. Over five million cows have been lost to these incidents.
“We find it distasteful and dangerous the recent incidence in Oyo where people are allowed to take laws into their hands by killing and burning properties at will.
“The government should come down heavily on perpetrators of such acts and provide immediate palliatives to the families of people who lost their lives and properties in order to ease their frustrations.
“We are open to working with the NGF in designing what we think can work in solving these problems.
“We condemn all sorts of criminality, extra-judicial killings and the impunity that is associated with it. Once more, we reiterate that MACBAN has never and will not condone any form of criminality by anyone.
“We stand for peace and justice to all. We pray we will continue to have this kind of interactions from time to time to foster peace and harmony in Nigeria.”