Miyetti Allah Tells Herdsmen To Defend Themselves Against Ethnic Militia Groups

Saleh-Alhassan

The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the umbrella body for Fulani herdsmen in the country, has asked its members to defend themselves against any ethnic militia group in the country, calling on the herders to exercise their rights to free movement as Nigerians.

The National Secretary of the group, Saleh Alhassan, said this in a telephone interview with the Punch on Thursday, threatening that governors in the southern part of the country would be held responsible if any of their members was attacked.

This comes barely 72 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari asked Fulani herdsmen in the South to ignore the call by northern elders asking them to return to the North,

Recall that the South-East Governors Forum, through its Director-General, Prof Simon Ortuanya, had recently warned that movement of cattle into the zone by foot would no longer be tolerated, except through trucks to specific cow markets to avoid the incessant clashes between herders and farmers.

The position of the governors was supported by the Ohanaeze Youth Council worldwide a few days ago when it warned herdsmen to stop moving around bushes and farmlands across the South-East.

The council’s President General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said that starting from Saturday, July 20, 2019 (today), there would be severe consequences if herdsmen were caught moving around on foot with their cattle.

Similarly, the Yoruba nationalist organisation, Oodua Peoples Congress, had through its President, Prince Osibote Oodua, warned kidnappers and herdsmen perpetrating criminal activities to stop or they would be forced to vacate the region.

The Ijaw Youth Council in the South-South, had also said three days ago that they could no longer tolerate the killings and threats from herdsmen in the zones.

But on Thursday, Alhassan told herdsmen to remain where they are and defend themselves if attacked.

He said, “We are Nigerians and we have a history. Anybody that thinks he can wake up and take on the Fulani pastoralist is making a grievous mistake; we are well prepared to defend our fundamental human rights of movement in this country.

“They (herdsmen) are Nigerians, so they are entitled to stay where they are. They should remain where they are and defend themselves against ethnic militia and assert their citizenship in this country.

“The only thing we would say is that we will hold all the governors of those states responsible for their safety and security, but if any ethnic militia, by any name, attacks our members, they should defend themselves in a manner that nobody would try such again.

“We have been saying it that people behind insecurity are not herders; bandits are behind these killings, and if the government is saying foreigners have infiltrated the herders, have they been arrested and what is their nationality? Anybody that is trying to destabilise this country should be dealt with.”

On the call by some northern groups that they should leave southern part of the country, Alhassan said, “Those so-called northern youths called coalition of northern groups should note that if because of their action any herder is killed, we will first look for them before we go after our enemies.

“We are Nigerians and we are not going anywhere. Our attachment to the land is opportunistic; we don’t farm the land. So, if anybody is thinking that because he has cultivated the land in a particular place for long and he has rights there more than us, then we would ask where is the grazing area that the colonial masters created for us?

“Politicians can play their politics but they should leave our people out of it because it is the desperate politicians that are causing this confusion and they are looking for anything to hang on to, but we are watching them critically.

“If you threaten the herders, they react; they cannot be used for any political game because we have our way of defending ourselves. We hate injustice and we fight it. Anybody that thinks we can be squeezed is making a mistake.”

when he was asked what he sees as the solution to the clashes between herders and their host communities, he said grazing reserves that were carved out before the country’s independence should be restored to serve their purposes.

“When we begin to discuss the Nigeria question, we would ask where the grazing reserves are because we know them and we have the records of where they are.”

Source: The Punch

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