Over 100 herders kidnapped daily, many killed, govt silent

The Coalition of Pastoralists Association (CPAN) has raised the alarm about the continued killing and kidnapping of over one hundred herders daily in some parts of the country.

The pastoralists said their members have suffered killings and paid ransoms to kidnappers paying huge amounts of money and sometimes used their animals for ransoms.

Addressing journalists on behalf of the Coalition, the National President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Baba Othman Ngelzarma said the Nigerian state has in recent years watched the cattle rearing business go down the drain due to natural and man-made disasters.

Other members of the Coalition include Alhaji Auwal Googa, Vice President- of Tabbital Pulaaku International TPI Nigeria Chapter, and Alhaji Saidu Maikano, President of Jonfe Jam Youth Development Association of Nigeria.

Others are Ibrahim Abdullahi Gan Allah Filbe Development Association of Nigeria GAFDAN,

Murtala Jafaru Julde, President Bandiraku Fulbe Youth Development and Right Initiative FGRDI, Barr Musa Usman, Secretary Farmers and Hunters Initiative for Peace and Development.

“There is no gainsaying that the easiest and most effective way of destroying a group of people is to destroy their businesses and sources of revenue for sustenance.

“Backed with the conspiratorial silence of the government, a lot of Nigerians especially sub-national entities across the country have adopted the culture of intolerance towards our people and business of cattle rearing”, he said.

While saying that the state governments formulate obnoxious laws targeted at chasing our people away, he said there was a ban on open grazing without providing infrastructure for alternatives, alleging that the government seized their cows and arrested their people recklessly, fining them huge amounts of money.

“We are not happy as our business is suffering massively from the conspiracy of the government and other Nigerians.

“The Fulani have been the target of stereotypes, ethnic cleansing and mass murder in almost all states of the Federation.

“From Zamfara in the North-West to Adamawa, Taraba in the North-East, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa in the North-Central, down to Ondo and Oyo in the South-West, or worse still the South-Eastern states, the Fulani people have been a subject of hatred, annihilation for unjustifiable reasons

“On the 3rd of December, 2022, soldiers killed innocent Pastoralists in Rugan Waziri, at Rafin Sarkin Fatika village.

“Similarly Fulbe pastoralists are victims of killings and cattle Rustling at Rafi, Shiroro, Munya, Mashegu and Borgu Local Governments of Niger State. Between October 2022 to December 2023, a total of 75 pastoralists were killed, while over 900 cattle were rustled.

“Vigilante Groups on the payroll and support of the Taraba State Government have killed at least 314 Pastoralists between October 2022 to 16th January 2023. Over 5000 cattle rustled while houses/settlements burnt down and agricultural produce looted”, he added.

 Ngelzarma said the recent airstrikes on Tuesday 24th January 2023 at Akwanaja village of Rukubi Ward, Doma LGA of Nasarawa State killed over 30 Fulani herders, 15 Hausa drivers and truck boys while offloading trucks of cattle.

“Another 62 sustained various degrees of injuries, some life-threatening. Before the incident, ‘Benue State Livestock Guards’ had raided and confiscated 1,254 cows at Rukubi, Nasarawa-Benue border communities in Doma LGA of Nasarawa State.

“The guards insisted that the herders should pay hefty penalties running to Millions. A negotiated ransom of twenty-seven million nairas (N27,000,000) was agreed between the Fulani owners of the confiscated cattle and the Benue State government. The herders obtained a loan from commercial banks.

“One week after the tragedy neither the Federal Government nor that of Benue deemed it appropriate to even offer a word of explanation or consolation is bewildering”, he stated.

 Presenting their prayers,  the coalition demanded “the immediate admittance of responsibility by the Nigerian military, unreserved apology and condolences to the families of the deceased Pastoralists.

“The immediate proscription, disbandment, arrest and prosecution of leaders and members of Ortom’s Tiv tribal militia otherwise referred to as Benue State Livestock Guards.

“The empanelling of an independent judicial commission of enquiry to identify, investigate, arrest and prosecute all individuals and entities involved in the murder, expulsion, cattle rustling, livestock kidnapping and extortion of our members in Benue and neighbouring States since 2017 when the Anti-Open Grazing Law was enacted and enforced in Benue State.

“The provision and guarantee of immediate security to all innocent law-abiding Fulbe citizens living in parts of Benue and all its neighbouring States.

“The identification, investigation, arrest and prosecution of all personnel of NSCDC, NPF, the Army and Nigerian Airforce that have engaged in providing support to Ortom’s Tiv tribal militia in extra-judicial killings of Fulbe herders and other innocent citizens, cattle rustling and kidnapping, arson, extortion, ransom collection, mass displacements and ethnic cleansing.

“Immediate intervention by the Federal Government to release thousands of livestock and innocent Fulbe herders illegally held captive by police and Ortom’s Tiv tribal militia in Benue for extortion and torture.

“Identification, profiling, rehabilitation and payment of compensation to all victims of these heinous crimes since the enactment and enforcement of this criminal, unconstitutional and discriminatory law in Benue State.

“Restoration of dialogue and communal harmony between Fulbe herders and Tiv farmers in Benue, Nasrawa and Taraba States as a panacea for future peace in the affected States.

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