Nigeria: Miyetti Allah Moves to Stop Farmers, Herders' Clashes, Bans Night Grazing

9 January 2020

Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) wednesday banned night grazing nationwide as part of measures to curb the perennial clashes between herders and farmers.

However, pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, differed with the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo on the decision.

ACF also called on farmers to stop attacks on underage herders who are too young to control their cattle, urging them to report any trespass to the authority for appropriate compensation.

MACBAN, after its Annual General Meeting (AGM), in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, yesterday, banned night grazing by cattle rearers nationwide.

National Secretary of the association, Mr. Baba Uthman, told journalists after the meeting that the decision would become an instruction that would be communicated to every member of the group, including those at the grassroots.

"This is a decision that has been taken by the highest decision-making body of the association. As it is taken here, it will go down the ladder down to our members at the grassroots.

"They will be informed and sensitised concerning it," Uthman said.

MACBAN also announced that a ban has been placed on grazing by minors and hawking of milk by teenage girls.

According to the group, these are the causes of cultural abuse and poses dangers to the underage.

Reacting to the ban, the Commissioner of Police in Yobe State, Mr. Abubakar Sahabu, assured the people that measures have been put in place to avert further clashes and gave the commitment of the police to apprehending any herdsman found grazing at night.

But Afenifere faulted the ban and urged the federal government to prosecute killer-herdsmen for their past criminal activities.

It also described the ban on night grazing by MACBAN as mere tokenism while the ACF and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo welcomed the development.

The spokesman of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the ban might not achieve the intended effect because the herders had on many occasions attacked communities and individuals in broad daylight.

"The reason why Miyetti Allah is insulting us with this kind of statement that suggests they care about us is that the government has failed to enforce the law against criminal activities that have been linked to their members as well as the ones they have claimed responsibility for," he added.

He blamed the government for failing to take decisive steps on the past criminal activities of Miyetti Allah members.

But Ohanaeze, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, commended MACABAN for the ban on night grazing in view of the crisis it had caused across the country.

Deputy Publicity Secretary of the organisation, Mr. Chuks Ibegbu, said banning night grazing was a wonderful development.

"My thinking is that banning of night grazing is a wonderful development; it is a welcome development that should be encouraged," he said.

He, however, urged the leadership of MACABAN to also go a step further by properly ensuring that they fish out those he described as "bad eggs" within the ranks of the herders.

"The association should also advise kidnappers and bandits among them to stop their terror against innocent Nigerians," he added.

In his reaction, the Secretary General of the ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani, said the directive was a good development.

He also said the farmers should direct their members not to attack the herders in the event of trespasses that are not deliberate.

Sani said: "The directive by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association to their members not to move their cattle in the night lest the cattle trespass people's farms is good development. This suggests they know that their support in preventing clashes between herders and farmers is critically sine qua non for peace.

"In the same way, farmers should direct their members not to take it out against herders in the event of trespasses that are not deliberate by the herders, some of whom are too young to control the cattle but should report any trespasses to the authority for appropriate compensation. That way, we can bring about peaceful coexistence needed for productive socioeconomic development.

"I say this because the task of building a peaceful nation people by society that is socially diverse, economically empowered and politically active where politics, morality and economics can intersect should not be left to government alone but for all able-bodied Nigerians to come together and live up their synergy against collective challenges for common good."

According to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), nearly 1,700 violent deaths were attributed to Fulani herdsmen in attacks carried out between January and September 2018.

The GTI, which measures the impact of terrorism across the world, estimated in its new report that Fulani herders have killed six times more people than those killed by terrorist group, Boko Haram, in 2018.

The report hinged the killing on the struggle for land and water between farmers and nomadic cattle herders.

"While deaths committed by Fulani extremists decreased following the peak of 1,169 deaths in 2014, violence from the group in 2018 is expected to surpass that peak. Nearly 1,700 violent deaths have been attributed to the Fulani Ethnic Militia from January to September 2018. An estimated 89 per cent of those killed were civilians.

"Seventy-eight per cent of the deaths committed by Fulani extremists since 2010 have been carried out as armed assaults," the report added.

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