The Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Socio-cultural Association has informed the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, that he has no right to chase its members from the state.
The state government and the Fulani herdsmen have been at loggerheads following the series of clashed the group members and residents of the state have had over the years.
Some of the herdsmen have been accused of indiscriminate grazing on farmlands belonging to residents thereby destroying their crops. Many of the faceoffs between the herdsmen and community members have resulted in deaths and destruction of properties. The state government after much appeal for the herdsmen to stop the indiscriminate grazing, have asked them to leave the state and has proposed an anti-grazing bill just like Ekiti state had done.
Reacting to calls for them to leave the state, the National President of the herdsmen association, Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo, over the weekend in Abuja said that the herdsmen have the same right with indigenes in the state and that they will not be leaving.
“Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore is not a splinter of any group. This is a socio-cultural organization and one can only be a Fulani man to be a member, unlike other associations related to cattle rearing and sale, which can accommodate anyone, once they are in cattle rearing or sale. Governor Samuel Ortom asking pastoralists to leave Benue State cannot happen. We have a mandate to speak on behalf of our members and their right as Nigerians. How can a Nigerian ask other Nigerians to leave a place they are constitutionally entitled to be? We are law-abiding and have always been championing peace and resolution of conflicts between pastoralists and farmers. The records are there. That was why we went to court,” Bodejo said.
He condemned plans by the state government to enact the anti-grazing law and also the establishment of ranches in the state. According to him, the ranches when built, would serve as detention centers where seized or ‘arrested’ cattle will be kept and auctioned after seven days, thus legalizing cattle rustling.