Cattle rearers and breeders in Nigeria, under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has alleged that the inauguration of the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (EGEM), was “in furtherance of the threat by Governor Ayodele Fayose to banish our members (Fulani herdsmen) from Ekiti State.”
Miyetti Allah said in a statement on Saturday that the Federal Government must intervene in the inauguration of EGEM, which the herdsmen claimed had shot five of their cows “before this macabre incident develops into unquenchable inferno involving our members and Ekiti State government.”
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) was formally reacting to Governor Fayose’s inauguration of a vigilance group, Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (EGEM), popularly called ‘Anti-malu’.
MACBAN in the statement signed by its spokesman, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, said: “Fayose unleashed the marshals against our members whose herds of cattle had gone to a stream at Agon bridge on Federal Polytechnic Road between the time of 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to quench their thirst on Friday 21st October 2016,” claiming that “the vigilance group shot five cows and carted away the meat, but the herdsman was able to flee with the rest of his cattle.”
The group said its members “are bona fide citizens of the country,” while seeking the intervention of the federal government.
It said: “MACBAN charged the governor to issue an apology and compensate its members who lost five cows, warning that cattle breeders would not sit idly by while they are being denied their only means of livelihood.”
The statement reads: “No cattle strayed into anybody’s farmland around that area in question. As such, the actions of the Anti-malu vigilante are not only provoking, but capable of creating uncontrollable scenarios whose ramification may go well beyond Ekiti State.
“As far as we know , Ekiti State is not an island of its own, but a state within the Federal Republic of Nigeria and while the governor is permitted to carry out actions geared towards protecting the interest of Ekiti State, such actions should follow the rule of law.
“We deplore this act of brigandage and call on Governor Ayodele Fayose to offer an unreserved apology to MACBAN, and equally set machinery in motion with a view to compensating our members who lost five cows in this primitive adventure.
“That the brutality of the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (popularly known as Anti- malu) on herdsmen is even outside the time stipulated by that law (if the law exists at all).
“The Federal Government should, therefore, look into the actions and activities of this committee because we cannot fold our hands while the only means of survival of our members is taken away and destroyed.
“MACBAN has instructed victims of this aggression and its members nationwide to exercise maximum restraint while we work towards resolving this unfortunate incident through mature and civilized manner.
Reacting to the threats, the Ekiti State government urged the cattle rearers and breeders not to test the will of government, saying the law took into consideration the interest of all stakeholders before it was passed by the House of Assembly and signed by the state governor and if there are grey areas, they should seek clarification.
Mr. Lanre Ogunsuyi, the state Commissioner for Information, Youth and Sports Development, said “all the genuine cattle dealers were at the meeting and there was a public hearing, and the law became necessary and it was duly passed by the Ekiti State House of Assembly and signed by the state government.
“Anybody who is criminally minded can test the will of government and see what happens to a man that breaks the law. The penalties are there. The law exists in Ekiti State; we are in a federation. That law is part of the laws of Ekiti State and anybody who will do business in Ekiti State has to comply with it or face the penalties of the law.
“We urge them not to test the will of government and the people of Ekiti State. Obviously, they are not from Ekiti State and they cannot come here and say willy-nilly, this is how we are going to carry out our business. They must carry out the business according to the laws of Ekiti State. When they break the law, they will face the penalty. So, they had better obeyed the law.
“We are a peace-loving people. I advise them that if there are grey areas, and they want to seek clarification, they have to come and ask questions. It is a good law. It protects them; it protects the farmers. They have to know that the law became necessary because we have to sustain the peace we have in Ekiti State. So, if they are coming to pollute the peace in Ekiti State, the people of Ekiti State will resist them. The law will take its course and they will be severely dealt with. They cannot do business with us illegally, they must comply with the laws of the land,” he said.