The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigerian has said Fulani herdsmen, who have allegedly been involved in serial killings in various communities in the country, kill their hosts in self-defense.
The leader of a delegation of MACBAN to the Defence Headquarters, Senator Dagiri Alkali, said the Fulani moved into new territories in the country because they had been forced out of their territories in the North.
He claimed that the Boko Haram insurgents attacked the Fulani in the North-East and other parts of the country and stole millions of cows from the breeders.
He added that the Fulani were also victims of the activities of cattle rustlers in Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue and parts of Kogi states with millions of cows taken away from them.
He wondered why people had not taken a look at the factors that had driven the Fulani to different parts of the country, asking where Nigerians expected the herdsmen to keep the over 20 million cows in the country.
He added, “When the reserves and forest were gazetted and reserved for cattle breeders, this incident was not there; but the increase in population has now wiped out the entire grazing reserves in this country; 400 and something of them all wiped out. And you have a population of about 20 million cows. Where do you keep them? And every one of us likes to eat meat.
“This is a venture that over 20 million people are engaged in. And nobody cares to know what the causes of this problem are. Presently, you know the case of Boko Haram. They attacked and decapitated the population of Fulani in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe and some parts of Taraba.
“The cattle rustlers have displaced the Fulani in Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau and Benue and in some parts of Kogi. Millions of cattle have been taken from these herdsmen. So when somebody says a Fulani man killed somebody, I wonder why? How? It’s only a poor man that fights.
“But you, as the military people, you know self-defense is an art. In the military, if you are attacked you have to defend yourself. You have been squeezed; you have to find a way to survive.”
He said when the Fulani were killed in the bush, nobody carried it in the media, admitting that it was not enough for anybody to kill innocent persons.
The Defence authorities have warned that the military would go after those behind the killing of innocent citizens and ensure that they were prosecuted in accordance with the directive of the President to deal with the situation.
The Director, Administration, at the Defence Headquarters, Maj. Gen. Fatai Ali, who represented the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, said the CDS had set up a committee to interact with the stakeholders on the issue.
He warned those involved in violence to stop forthwith as the Federal Government would subject them to the full weight of the law.
According to him, the committee, led by Maj. Gen. Edward Nze, had just arrived in Abuja from Benue for such meetings with stakeholders.
He stated that the military was working hard to ensure that those who perpetrated the gruesome killings were apprehended.
“The recent herdsmen and local community clashes in many parts of Nigeria are sources of serious concern. Many lives have been lost. The President has directed security agencies and indeed the military to handle the situation and ensure that no more lives are lost.
“I want to assure you that the military, in conjunction with other security agencies, is doing everything possible to maintain peace and security in Nigeria in line with the directive of the Commander-in-Chief.
“I want to also assure you that whoever is involved in this killing will be brought to book and tried in line with the law of the land.
“We are calling on all other parties, who are interested in peace, to sheathe their swords and ensure that they do not cause unnecessary casualties or deaths; otherwise, the Federal Government of Nigeria will bring the full weight of the force and law on them.”