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Farmer-herder crisis may worsen in Ondo due to open grazing ban – MACBAN

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THE Anti-Grazing Bill signed into law by Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Tuesday may worsen herder-farmer feud in the state, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has warned. 

The MACBAN’s National Secretary Baba Ngelzarma gave the warning while featuring on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show.’

He said Benue State, which got a similar law in 2017, had not seen peace but a worse conflict.


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He also hailed the controversial planned resuscitation of grazing routes across the country by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. 

Ngelzarma said his members were waiting for how Ondo State would implement its new law.

“As it is now, Ondo State is calm. Everyone is calm. Our members are calm. Nobody has told them anything, and nobody is saying anything. We’ll wait and see how this law is going to be implemented. 

“But I will like to draw the attention of Ondo to Benue where a law has been put in place. What happened to the Benue law? Has it succeeded in bringing peace to them? It has never succeeded in bringing peace to Benue. Rather, it has further aggravated the situation,” Ngelzarma cautioned.

He, however, said his group was never opposed to a law that would bring peace and harmony to places where herders conducted their businesses.

He also called on the Federal Government to develop a policy document to guide cattle rearing in the country.

“Let there be something that can work for both the South and the North,” he said.

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He decried the disunity among southern and northern leaders over cattle rearing in the nation.

He, however, commended the Delta State government for putting in an ‘immediate solution’ for pastoralists in the state through its bill on open grazing ban.

Ngelzarma urged states making laws on open grazing ban to consider pastoralists in their domains.

He also hailed Buhari’s decision to retrieve gazetted grazing reserves across states for the pastoralists.

“This is a very good decision and in the right direction. It is high time because if you want to settle the pastoralists in the North, where will you settle them? Are you going to settle them in the air? It’s only on the land they can be settled. The various grazing reserves have been gazetted by law for grazing.

“These laws were promulgated by those state governments who had responsibilities over land. The land belongs to the state governments. It’s under the custody of every state government. These grazing reserves were gazetted by those state governors. They are there, there are 415 of them. Out of this number, about half were not gazetted. Even those gazetted have been encroached upon by farmers. So, let’s review it. Let’s see how we can take over where it is possible for us to take over.”

He added that where gazetted land had been encroached, the Federal Government should find a replacement and gazette them.

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The ICIR had reported how the Buhari’s government was courting crisis over the decision to review the grazing reserves.

Nigeria has recorded huge losses in human and cattle casualties to farmer-herder feud over the past decades.

Amnesty International reported in 2018 that 3,600 persons had died from the conflicts.

Hundreds of others have died since then, and the Fulanis – a major tribe in the country famous for cattle rearing – have been blamed and profiled for most of the killings.

The ICIR had reported in May how Zambia, Gambia and South Africa offered Nigeria a refresher course on managing the crisis.

Responding to the killings by herders in his state, Benue Governor Samuel Ortom signed the bill banning open grazing in his state into law in May 2017.

He was the first governor to do so, and the law drew the ire of pastoralists who felt they were the immediate target.

Shortly after signing the law, gunmen swooped on Benue communities in the state and killed 73 persons on January 1, 2018.

Like Benue, Taraba has a law banning opening grazing, and its people have been at war with pastoralists. The conflict has recorded many deaths of humans and livestock.

Pastoralists are in 36 states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. 

The conflict breeds crimes namely rape, killings, abductions, which are mostly blamed on the herders.

In July, governors in the South, excluding Cross River governor Ben Ayade, had agreed to begin implementing a ban on open grazing in the region this month.

Prominent Nigerians have blamed President Buhari on the festering herder-croppers crisis. 

Commissioner for Information in Delta State Charles Aniagwu, who also featured with the MACBAN leader on the TV, said his state provided 5,000 hectares of land for ranching in its bill.

“If the President is able to promote a policy, states don’t even need to pass individual laws. We are saying we want one Nigeria. This idea to begin to lead the process of animal husbandry differently, and having distinct laws is a way of further dividing us. The Federal Government should have been able to properly regulate this.”

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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