The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association (MACBAN) on Saturday condemned a flurry of inflammatory comments credited to its sister group, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore.
The MACBAN national secretary, Baba Usman, told PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday afternoon that his organisation was shocked to read media reports that said a leader of Kautal Hore had asked Fulani herders to violently retaliate any attack or attempt to restrict them in southern Nigeria.
The Kautal Hore also said Fulani herders have equal rights to all land in southern Nigeria, notwithstanding that specific ethnic and tribal groups have occupied those land for centuries.
The Punch on Saturday quoted the national Secretary of the group, Saleh Alhassan, as making the comments in an interview with the paper.
The comments came amid a spate of increasingly confrontational comments from groups across the country following the killing last week of the daughter of Reuben Fasoranti, a prominent Yoruba leader, on her way to Lagos.
Although the police said Funke Olakunrin’s death was an abduction attempt gone wrong, Afenifere, an influential South West group, blamed Fulani herders for the killing. Herders have been accused of perpetrating similar attacks in other parts of the country, but there is no evidence yet they were responsible for Mrs Olakunri’s killing.
Last week, the South East governors’ forum announced it would no longer allow cattle to roam communities. It said cattle should only be transported to approved markets in the region.
Suggestions that herders return to the north was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari, who has faced criticisms for his handling of the nation’s growing insecurity. Prominent leaders have also urged restraint, and have advised against what has appeared to be a growing anti-Fulani sentiment in the country.
The Punch quoted the Kautal Hore as urging its official to remain in the south and defend themselves against any threat or use of force.
“If any ethnic militia, by any name, attacks our members, they should defend themselves in a manner that nobody would try such again,” the paper quoted Mr Alhassan as saying.
The group said southern governors would be held responsible for any violent attacks on Fulani herders in their region, and insisted that grazing routes designed by colonial lords should continue to govern pastoral administration across the country.
“If anybody is thinking that because he has cultivated the land in a particular place for long and he has rights there more than us, then we would ask where is the grazing area that the colonial masters created for us?” he said.
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