Jos — Unlike their counterparts in Benue State, Fulani community in Plateau State, under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has rejected the open-grazing prohibition bill, warning the state House of Assembly not to yield to pressure mounted on it from various quarters to pass it into law.
It added that the bill would brew trouble in the hitherto restive state.
A statement signed by the state Chairman of MACBAN, Alhaji Muhammadu Nura, said: "The Fulani view the agitation by a group known as G-17 for a ban on open grazing as political, trying to incite trouble in the state that is trying to consolidate on the attained relative peace currently being enjoyed."
A youth group called Plateau Youths G-17 for Peace and Progress led by Mr. Dachung Musa Bagos, had on Tuesday morning protested in black attires at the state House of Assembly where it presented a bill for prohibition of open-grazing in the state, citing persistent attacks by herdsmen as its reason.
But MACBAN, in its reaction, said it was convinced that "the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is the supreme law of the land guarantees freedom of movement and the right of citizens to live in any part of the country and embark on any legal business of their choice without any let, hindrance, restriction or molestation.
"Also, the bill has negated all international, regional and sub-regional laws, conventions, charters and treaties which also guarantee the above rights including trans-human to all and sundry."
Nura observed that some of the provisions of the bill are barbaric anti-human and born out of ethnic and religious sentiments.
"The bill also poses serious threat, intimidation and harassment to the herders."
He said: "As Nigerians and people of Plateau State, we will not stay back to look at trouble makers trample on our fundamental rights. So, we vehemently reject any attempts by any group or the state lawmakers to formulate a bill that is harmful to us and our existence.
"Let me categorically make it clear that we will not succumb to any politically sponsored bill seeking for passage into law to ban open-grazing in our state. We understand that the G-17 are agitating for the seizure of cattle route, grazing reserves and grazing corridors in the state and giving them out to farmers. That is unacceptable.
"We are against any plan for cattle ranching, and we would also not buy any land for the purpose of rearing our cattle as being proposed by the G-17.
"We are therefore urging the lawmakers to desists from doing what will eventually plunge the state into avoidable confusion. As peaceful and law-abiding citizens, we would continue to not only live peacefully with others, but will also support and promote peaceful coexistence. We also urge our people not topanic because of the ill-conceived bill."
Though the Fulani have rejected the bill, the youths in the state have vowed to continue to pressure the lawmakers to pass it into law.