Cattle breeders association under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore on Tuesday kicked against anti-open grazing legislation enacted by the Benue State government.
The group argued that they were original inhabitants of Benue valley in the State, thus the lingering crisis was a struggle for the state’s natural resources.
The National Secretary, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Engr. Saleh Alhassan said during a world press conference in Abuja that it was inappropriate to treat members of the association as outcasts, adding that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol even allows the Fulani community free movement into and across the country.
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Otom recently passed the anti-open rearing and grazing bill into law.
Alhassan said: “We are ever ready. We are peaceful people. What we don’t accept is for people not to welcome us and want to annihilate us. We will not accept that.
We know our history. We know our root. If you see us in the bushes, don’t think we don’t have our history and particularly in the Benue. We are challenging the Tiv people. We were there in the Benue valley before them…before they moved from Congo and settled in Cross River and later moved to the Benue valley. So they met the pastoralist there. This is a struggle for natural resources. You cannot beat us and say we should not cry, No. Even God will not be happy with that.
However, he said the nation should acknowledge the existence of pastoral farmers and provide grazing reserves to develop new breed of cattle and embrace modern technology.
“The Nigerian state must recognise that the Fulani pastoralist exists and as a socio-cultural group that has a right to the shared resources. We must be allocated land to do our cattle grazing, which systematically we can settle our families, change the breed of cattle they need and improve on the technology of cattle rearing,” he added.
Speaking on ways to end the communal clashes, he stressed that the association was partnering on experimental ranching and nomadism with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as part of gestures to provide lasting solution to the crisis.
In his remark, President of the socio-cultural association, Alh. Abdullahi Bello, described the enactment as wicked, obnoxious and repressive.
He said it was wicked to criminalise their means of survival and freedoms.
However, Bello urged the National Assembly to intervene on the issue, stressing that inter-state movement of pastoralists is synonymous to inter-state commerce.
Our association view the current attempt by the Benue State government to criminalise our means of economic livelihood of cattle rearing through the enactment of an obnoxious anti-open grazing law as the most wicked act any government can do to us and our economic interest.
“We want to state here that we reject that repressive and oppressive law and will deploy all the necessary legal means as enshrined in the constitution to challenge it,” he added.
The association vowed to mobilise herdsmen in the country to resist the law as it was a deliberate attempt to enslave their members,” through this wicked legislation ever contemplated in the history of our nation.”