After days of faceoff between the Ondo State Government and Fulani herdsmen under the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) over the ultimatum by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu that herders should register or vacate forest reserves in the state, the herders yesterday agreed to comply with the demands.
The herdsmen from across the six South-West states met with Akeredolu and other governors over the prevailing insecurity in the region perpetrated mostly by criminals under the guise of herders.
The meeting was attended by the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Governor Akeredolu, who doubles as Chairman, South-West Governors’ Forum; Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) and Kebbi State Governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu; Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State; Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde and their Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Bagudu Abubakar.
The meeting, which lasted for about three hours at International Centre for Culture and Events (DOME), was said to have be at the instance of the NGF to engage the Miyetti Allah on the recent developments in the South-West MACBAN President, Alhaji Muhammadu Kirowa, during the meeting, disclosed that Akeredolu’s order was not new, stressing that it had been issued two years ago.
While stressing that MACBAN is a peaceful association that values peace and condemned criminalities in any form, Kirowa said Miyetti Allah will continue to work with security agencies and relevant stakeholders to fish out criminals masquerading as herdsmen.
Kirowa also warned herders to desist from taking their cows to people’s farms for grazing, adding that the frequent farmers/ herders clashes must be brought to an end, adding that Fulani herders in Ondo State and across the South- West must put an end to both night and under-aged grazing with immediate effect.
The leadership of MACBAN also agreed that the motive of Akeredolu was not to send Fulani out of the state, but herders illegally occupying forest reserves in a bid to tackle security challenges in the state and the South-West. Kirowa said: “We make it abundantly clear that the association is open to working with the various state governments against any forms of criminality.
“We are against the senseless acts of banditry and kidnapping across the country. 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.” He added that: “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 forum 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 whoever. 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.”
In a communique issued after the meeting which was read by Fayemi, the stakeholders stated that the governors as well as MACBAN are committed to the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria, stressing that the issue of insecurity is a national challenge and not peculiar to any tribe or region, but must be addressed by the cooperation of all.
The communique partly read: “The security and welfare of the people of Nigeria is the primary purpose of government as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended. The stakeholders are committed to the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria.
“The order of the Ondo State Governor was misconstrued and misrepresented by a section of the media. He only ordered those occupying the Forest Reserves in Ondo State illegally to quit.
“Criminals should be apprehended and punished, no matter their origin, class or status.
Security agencies have been trying to stem the tide of criminality in the country, but must step up their efforts in the fight. Fake news is another issue that makes our security worse than solving it.
“There is the need to build partnership for peace and security with MACBAN and jointly wage war against criminality. No one had sent anyone away from any state or region but all hands must be on deck to fight criminality.
“MACBAN is a peace loving, law abiding organization which does not habour or condone criminals and agreed that: Night grazing should be banned henceforth; under age herding is inimical to security and hence be banned; occupation of state forest reserves illegally is condemned.
“MACBAN also suffers insecurity and kidnapping and thus desire peaceful coexistence. MACBAN is ready for any peaceful move by the states to engender security. “There must be an enduring framework with MACBAN in a way that will help address security issues.
“That free range grazing must be stopped to avoid conflicts between the farmers and the herders. “MACBAN should embrace and be committed to modern breeding process by creating grazing reserves and practice ranching to prevent cattle roaming about.
“Standing Committee comprising of farmers, MACBAN and the government should be set up in each state (where they don’t exist) to ensure synergy and result. “We must create economic opportunities for our people and reduce opportunities for criminalities in our country.”