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We’re victims of the ‘worst crime against humanity’, say herdsmen

The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) says its members are the worst victims of violent clashes across the country but none of the attacks on them ever gets reported.

According to Baba Ngeljarma, National Secretary of MACBAN, thousands of herdsmen have been killed over the years, and millions of their livestock either killed or stolen, yet the herdsmen are always the ones accused of masterminding clashes with farmers.

“Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, as the premier pastoralist body in the country, has remained in unimaginable pains on daily basis as we receive communication of gory details of attacks, maiming and destruction of our members across the country,” Ngeljarma said.

“More worrisome is the fact that the pastoralist community, which has been the main target of the offensive, is also deliberately been pointed as the attackers at the same time.

“This horrible accusation in both intent and purpose is meant not only to smear the image of the herdsmen as a peace loving community, but to also allow further criminal justification to carry out total ethnic cleansing on our members, as witnessed in different parts of the country.

“Only very recently, we have lost over 1,000 people, including children, women and the aged and over 2 million cattle to this gang. We are more disturbed today as this state government hides under the self-created crises and blackmailing the Federal Government into releasing to them security operatives to achieve their illegal and wicked agenda on our people.

“The trend of attacks on our defenceless members by ethnic militias oiled by a deliberate profiling through coordinated media campaigns against our members, to say the least, is the worst crime against humanity.”

Ngeljarma lamented that herdsmen in Nigeria have been abandoned to “their predators” as nobody has been arrested “even when the perpetrators are well known to the victims”.

The group urged the Federal Government to “create a Federal Ministry of Livestock Development to attend to the multidimensional needs of the industry as is obtained in many countries”.

It also called for “the enactment of a national law to carter for the peculiar needs of pastoralists in particular and the livestock sub-sector in general”.

According to MACBAN “the mischievous anti-open-grazing laws promulgated by some states have woefully failed to address the contentious issues”.

“The anti-open-grazing law in Benue, Taraba and other states is nothing more than a symbol of intolerance and do not in any way intend to solve the farmers/grazers conflict, as the livestock breeders interest is neither captured in the law nor in its implementation mechanism.

“While, as a body, we are not against any law that can engender peace, create societal harmony and stability, we cannot oblige any self-centred regulation with primordial sentiments based on injustice, intolerance and infringement of people’s fundamental rights.

“It is no longer hidden that to achieve these, some state governments are sponsoring ethnic militia against our people, recruiting and arming locals to kill our people and rustle their livestock as seen recently in Benue and Taraba States.”

Among other things, MACBAN is calling for a federal judicial commission of inquiry into the killings with the aim so as to unravel the truth and the offenders. The group also wants government to “pay compensation to the victims of all crises to reduce their level of suffering”.

“We disassociate ourselves from any other group or individual that is out to foment trouble in the country (and) we condemn in totality any attempt of branding herdsmen as terrorists as is being clamoured from certain quarters,” it said. “We view this as the continuation of the hate agenda on our people and a very dangerous trend for the country.”

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