Fulani herdsmen, under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, warn that “if you kill a herder, don’t go and sleep, we will revisit you, and it’s not because we hate your tribe. People attack herders, and in one way or the other, herders have found a way to retaliate.”
The National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Mr Alhassan Saleh, said this in an interview with Sunday Punch, vowing they will avenge the alleged attacks on and loss of herdsmen and their cattle.
He said they will resist any eviction from the South-West, noting that it would never tolerate any act of injustice on herders.
According to him, herders have a right under the Nigerian constitution to live wherever they desire.
Mr. Saleh spoke amid threats by some South-West groups and personalities to evict criminal herdsmen from the region.
He said it was wrong to drive herders out of any part of Nigeria and that even if there were criminals among them, it was the function of the government’s security forces to identify and arrest them.
Saleh added that the eviction of herdsmen from the southern region of the country was a dangerous precedent, advising that the best way to solve the herders-farmers crisis was for state governments to provide ranches and grazing routes for the herders and their animals. This in his view would be a solution to the continuous crisis, warning that the eviction of herders would only lead to wider consequences.
Recall that the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had in January asked all Fulani herdsmen to vacate the forest reserves in the state within seven days, alleging that the activities of the herdsmen had long been causing a threat to security in the state.
Some South-West stakeholders, like prominent Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo (aka Sunday Igboho) had also asked criminal herdsmen in the region to leave, accusing them of kidnapping, rape, and farmland destruction, among other crimes in places like Ibarapa and Yewa in Oyo and Ogun states, respectively.
But Mr. Saleh, said no group could evict the herders, vowing to resist any eviction from the South-West.
He said, “Nobody has the right (to evict herdsmen). If you say you are going to evict us, we will resist eviction. We have been surviving in harsh environments; if we do not resist, we will be wiped out of the planet.”
Saleh further said nobody could prevent foreign herdsmen from entering Nigeria, claiming that most of the herders entering to the country once settled in Nigeria but relocated to other neighbouring countries like Ghana and Benin republics.
“All those who travelled to the Benin Republic and others are coming back home. All those saying they will bar foreign herders from entering Nigeria are just playing to the gallery because if they are aware of the ECOWAS Protocols, they would know they cannot chase them away. That is why the position of the Bauchi State Governor [Bala Mohammed] is the true position. You have no right to evict anybody from any part of the country.
“Our number has increased recently because of the tension in Ghana and Benin republics. The ones in Benin Republic have integrated with the Yoruba in such a way that they speak the language. They were initially living in the South-West, and they are coming back,” he said.
Saleh described the eviction notice to herders as propaganda, saying that “innocent” herders were becoming the casualties.