Nigeria: Farmers-Herders Conflict - How South-West Governors, Miyetti Allah Agreed to Tackle Insecurity

26 January 2021

The meeting was aimed at checking the insecurity, especially clashes between farmers and herders in the six South-west states.

Governors of the six South-west states and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) have agreed to ban night and underage grazing in the region.

The development is aimed at checking the insecurity rocking the six South-west states.

According to the communique sent to journalists at the end of their meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Monday, "night grazing should be banned henceforth, underage herding is inimical to security and hence (should) be banned and occupation of State Forest Reserves illegally is condemned".

Ultimatum

The meeting held following the ultimatum given by the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, that herders should vacate all forest reserves in the state within seven days.

It also held following an incident in Oyo State where a local warlord, Sunday Adeyemo, known as Sunday Igboho, led residents to evict members of a Fulani community in Igangan over allegations that they harbour criminals.

The meeting was attended by members of the Nigerian Governors Forum which include Mr Akeredolu, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Babajide Sanwo-olu of Lagos State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa State and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.

In order to end the insecurity in the six states, it was agreed a herders/farmers peace committee would be put in place.

Meeting

In his opening remarks, Mr Fayemi argued that Mr Akeredolu's comment was misconstrued by the media, "particularly, the social media".

"Many members of MACBAN were born in the South-west. So Akeredolu cannot ask the Fulani to vacate Ondo State. The areas concerned are the forest reserves and it is about registration and also to work in line with the law. Who we are after are the criminals, not Fulani herdsmen, criminals are criminals, irrespective of their ethnic group," he said.

Explaining his position clearly, Mr Akeredolu said at the meeting that he did not ask anyone in the state to leave "but rather called for adequate security mechanism".

"It is not that I asked anybody to leave Ondo State and what we all agreed was that we should have a register so as to be able to identify strangers in the forest. These crimes must be nipped in the bud. We must protect everybody in Ondo State. We won't play to the gallery," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Makinde, in a tweet on Monday evening, also shared the resolution of the meeting and the plan for his state.

"Collectively, we resolved to ban open grazing in all parts of the South-west. In Oyo State, we already have a law against open grazing which will continue to be implemented by our security agencies. I restated that we will not permit criminality as a response to criminal actions. Instead we will continue to support our security agencies to do their duties. Also, we will work with our people to face our common enemies - the criminals; kidnappers, armed robbers and bandits."

More so, Mr Oyetola said in a similar tweet said "I held that we must take a common and workable position that'll rein in criminals and ensure peace in our nation. I also maintained that constant interaction with herders, artisanal miners and other strangers at the community and government levels will help mitigate violence in our respective states and region.

"In Osun, we've in place a committee on peaceful coexistence between Fulani/Bororo and crop farmers, and with the help of the committee, we've been able to resolve several cases amicably. We all have a duty to promote and ensure a united and stronger Nigeria."

MACBAN's position

Also, the National Chairman of the MACBAN, Muhammadu Kiruwa, agreed that his association is willing to work with the government and the security agencies in fighting criminality.

"We are directing members of our State Executives to work with constituted security outfits. The security outfits must be designed to work with all stakeholders as this will engender inclusiveness and peace also they must within the ambit of the law.

"We are open to working with the forum in designing what we think can work in solving these problems. We condemn all sorts of criminality, extrajudicial killings and the impunity that is associated with it."

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