Miyetti Allah cattle breeders not behind killings in Nigeria: Sultan

The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) is not behind the wave of killings by herdsmen across the country, the Sultan of Sokoto told an Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace in Abuja on Thursday.

Imposing a ban on Macban amounts to proscribing Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other socio-cultural organisations, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III said, while condemning the recent killings in Taraba, Benue and other states, national daily The Guardian reported.

Miyetti Allah is a business organisation existing for over 32 years. Instead of blaming them for the killings, federal agencies should catch the real culprits.

Killings will not be condoned whether it is by a Fulani cattle herder (pictured), farmer or any group trying to earn political mileage ahead of 2019 general elections, he said.

However, blaming Fulani cattle herders for the murders is groundless since they neither carry arms nor can they remain untraced if at all they attack a village and flee.

Rev. Samson Ayokunle of the Christian Association of Nigeria hoped the forum would help in easing tension among various ethnic groups.

The Catholic Bishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan called for the need to build trust among religions.

All are sailing in the same boat on a turbulent sea. If they continue fighting, the boat will sink, the bishop warned.

 ‘Repeal anti-grazing law’

Addressing a gathering in Kano on Wednesday, national president of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Bello Bodejo, called for the repeal of the Benue State anti-open grazing law. He said tension between Tiv and Fulani ethnic groups rose after the enactment of the grazing ban.

He blamed Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom for approving the ban that led to violent clashes and loss of lives.

He called the ban unconstitutional as it restricted Fulani cattle grazers who have to keep moving from place to place in search of greener pastures and water for their cattle.

Sensing the risk for their livelihood, Macban moved the Federal High Court in Abuja where the case is still pending.

Instead of calling Macban for talks, the governor is sending threatening messages to its members, he alleged.

Ortom rejected Bodejo’s charges. People seeking to derail the anti-grazing law are spreading rumours that he is using armed militias to intimidate Macban members. This is nothing short of blackmail, he said.

He insisted the state should not give land for cattle colonies. Anyone who wished to keep livestock should use ranches.

The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) too rejected the federal plan to create cattle colonies saying no part of the southwest region should be allowed for the enterprise.

YCE expressed shock over President Muhammadu Buhari’s lack of concern for the security of farmers in Benue. They wondered why the “killer herdsmen” have not been arrested yet.

IPOB a ‘terrorist’ group

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Abuja insisted that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a terrorist organisation.

The ruling came on an application filed by IPOB through its counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, pleading with the court to set aside its order of September 20, 2017, in which it gave the group the terror tag.

Ejiofor argued on Thursday that the federal government fraudulently procured the ban. Chief Judge Abdul Kafarati said IPOB’s request “lacked merit” and dismissed its application.

The court upheld the federal submission that IPOB had been unleashing mayhem on people. It awarded a N500,000 cost against IPOB.

Ejiofor vowed to appeal the ruling.  Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the ethnic group representing Igbo communities, deplored the ruling.

Its head John Nwodo said Attorney General Abubakar Malami did not find it necessary to classify Fulani herdsmen as terrorists even though it is listed in the Global Terrorist Index as the fourth deadliest terrorist organisation in the world.