Fulani herdsmen under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore have vowed to resist any eviction from the South -West, citing their rights as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution to live wherever they desire. Miyetti Allah also vowed to avenge the alleged attacks on and loss of herdsmen and their cattle, saying they would never tolerate any act of injustice on herders.
The National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Mr Alhassan Saleh, stated these in an interview with Sunday PUNCH against a backdrop of the eviction notices issued to criminal herdsmen by some SouthWest groups and personalities.
Saleh said it was wrong to drive herders out of any part of Nigeria and that even if there were criminals among them, it was the function of the government’s security forces to identify and arrest them.
He said the eviction of herdsmen from the southern region of the country was a dangerous precedent and that the best way to solve the herders-farmers crisis was for state governments to provide ranches and grazing routes for the herders and their animals.
The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had in January asked all Fulani herdsmen to vacate the forest reserves in the state. He later issued a seven day ultimatum to the effect.
The governor gave the order at a meeting with leaders of the Hausa/Fulani and Ebira communities in the state, saying the activities of the herdsmen had long been causing a threat to security in the state.
Also, Saleh said nobody could bar foreign herdsmen from entering Nigeria, saying most of the herders entering to the country once settled in Nigeria but relocated to other neighbouring countries like Ghana and Benin republics.
He said , “All those who travelled to the Benin Republic and others are coming back home. All those saying they will bar foreign herders from entering Nigeria are just playing to the gallery because if they are aware of the ECOWAS Protocols, they would know they cannot chase them away. That is why the position of the Bauchi State Governor [Bala Mohammed] is the true position. You have no right to evict anybody from any part of the country.
“Our number has increased recently because of the tension in Ghana and Benin republics. The ones in Benin Republic have integrated with the Yoruba in such a way that they speak the language. They were initially living in the South-West, and they are coming back , ” he added.
Saleh described the eviction notice to herders as propaganda adding that “innocent” herders were becoming the casualties.
He said , “They expected a reaction from us, maybe by way of attacking other ethnic nationalities. But that is wrong because the herders they are attacking are the innocent herders. Are the criminals representing anybody ? They are doing their criminal enterprise. Our own pain is that the people who are supposed to know are pretending as if they don’t know.
Saleh also asked governors to provide land for ranching for the herders as a solution to the continuous crisis, adding that the eviction of herders would only lead to wider consequences.