The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has warned farmers and youths in local communities across the south east against attacks and killing of Fulani herdsmen and their cows.
The chairman of MACBAN in Anambra, Alhaji Sadiq Gidado who fired the warning shot in an exclusive interview with the Orient Weekend while reacting to the recent farmers/herders’ crisis in Anambra West local government area of Anambra state, stressed that its members would not withstand further unprovoked killings in their line of duty.
“The Fulanis are not people you can push to the wall. I know how I am managing these herdsmen and I pray that the kind of killings that is taking place in other parts of the country will not happen in South East. They should stop confronting and killing these Fulanis without reason. There is a level it would reach and I may not be able to control them anymore.
This paper earlier reported that tension rose last weekend in Mmiata Anam community following speculations that heavily armed herdsmen arrived the area to carry out reprisal attacks following a recent clash involving farmers and herders.
But Gidado traced the latest conflict to the killing of four herdsmen in the area between since the beginning of the year without tangible evidence of destruction of crops. “The genesis of this current clash was that on January 2, 2019, two Fulani herdsmen were killed at Mmiata Anam and nobody knows what really led to that, except that it was alleged that somebody was wounded inside a farm in the area and youths in the area mobilised themselves and went on rampage.
“Three people were arrested in respect of that matter and we thought everything was under control. But again, on February 22, the traditional ruler of the community called me and informed me that a farmer was killed in the area and they were suspecting Fulani herdsmen for the crime. And I quickly assured him that if Fulani people were behind it, I would get them arrested to face justice. But residents of the area mobilised themselves and killed two Fulani. Up till now, the corpse of the two Fulani are nowhere to be found.
The MACABAN leader further disclosed that the recent land tussle between the Igbo-speaking and Igala-speaking communities in the area was also fuelling the crisis. “Actually, it’s not only Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes that we are witnessing in Anambra West. There is equally the land dispute between the Igbo-speaking and Igala-speaking communities in the area which is creating a sort of confusion.
According to him, there was usually no proper investigation to ascertain whether it was a Fulani man or Igala that wounded the farmer and what they did was that they went and killed Fulani people. “To me, that was wrong because if Fulani are fighting, you can never kill them like that. The truth is that I know the way I control my people, especially those operating in Anambra West, to ensure that there is peace. I try to tell them to avoid getting into trouble and even when some people are trying to confront them, they should just leave the area and that’s what they are doing.
Gidado disclosed that MACABAN was working in synergy with the security operatives, the indigenes and the state government through the Cattle Menace Control Committee and that those whose farms were damaged by cattle should channel their complaints through the body rather than resorting to violent attacks on its members. “To ensure that they operate peacefully, I ordered that nobody should carry weapons. If they were armed, they would not be easily killed like that. And that is because we have a properly constituted peace committee in Anambra West and another committee in Awka that investigates and addresses issues relating to farmers/herdsmen conflicts.
“So far, none of the committees has received reports from these communities that their farms or crops were destroyed by Fulani herdsmen. But, even if farms were destroyed, I believe we have to follow it legally and not through bloodshed. So, I condemn this act and I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the people of these communities to approach this matter legally.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the official response of the Anambra state police command on the matter was not successful as messages sent to the state public relations officer, Haruna Mohammed, were not replied as at press time.