7-day ultimatum: South-West governors, Miyetti Allah agree to ban night grazing, underage herding

Governors under the umbrella of the South-West Governors Forum on Monday converge on Akure, the Ondo State capital and resolved that the executive order of Ondo governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, banning night grazing should be implemented across the region.

The governors also added that underage herding is inimical to security and hence be banned across the region.

The meeting which was called at the instance of the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, following the executive order of Governor Akeredolu that all Fulani herdsmen illegally occupying the state forest reserves should register with the state government or vacate within seven days, with effect from last Monday, January 18, 2021.

The meeting was attended by four of the six governors from the region including Governor Fayemi of Ekiti, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun and Akeredolu.

The governor who met with the leadership of Miyetti Allah resolved that all herdsmen plying their trade in the various states should duly register with the states government.

The meeting which lasted about three hours was also attended by the governors of Jigawa and Kebbi states, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu respectively, who said the meeting became necessary to douse the tension over the vacation order by Akeredolu, saying the Ondo governor was misconstrued and misrepresented by some section of the media.

The meeting discussed vigorously and resolved and that the security and welfare of the people of Nigeria is the primary purpose of government as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria while the stakeholders said they are committed to the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria.

They all agreed that insecurity is a national challenge and not peculiar to any tribe or region but must be addressed by the cooperation of all.

They noted that “the order of the Ondo State governor was misconstrued and misrepresented by a section of the media. He only ordered those occupying the forest reserves in Ondo State illegally to quit.”

The stakeholders agreed that criminals should be apprehended and punished, no matter their origin, class or status security agencies have been trying to stem the tide of criminality in the country but must step up their efforts in the fight.

They also stressed the need to build a partnership for peace and security with MACBAN and jointly wage war against criminality and maintained that “no one had sent anyone away from any state or region but all hands must be on deck to fight criminality.”

They, however, resolved in the communique issued at the end of the meeting that “night grazing should be banned henceforth while underage herding is inimical to security and hence be banned and occupation of state forest reserves illegally is condemned.

“MACBAN also suffers insecurity and kidnapping and thus desire peaceful coexistence and MACBAN is ready for any peaceful move by the states to engender security.

“There must be an enduring framework with MACBAN in a way that will help address security issues.

“That free-range grazing must be stopped to avoid conflicts between the farmers and the herders.

“Strengthening alternative security arrangements and make them complementary to the mainstream security agencies in Nigeria.

“MACBAN should embrace and be committed to modern breeding process by creating grazing reserves and practice ranching to prevent cattle roaming about.”

They also resolved that “standing committee comprising of farmers, MACBAN and the government should be set up in each state (where they don’t exist) to ensure synergy and result.

“We must create economic opportunities for our people and reduce opportunities for criminalities in our country.”

Speaking earlier, Fayemi said the emergency meeting was summoned to enable the leaders to address some matters of urgent importance in the survival of the region and the well-being of the people of the region and Nigeria as a whole.

He said: “Everybody recognizes the importance of this meeting to national to security, to peace and to national integration and development. The statement as regards the ultimatum by Governor Akeredolu have been misconstrued and it has generated a lot of reactions.

“Around about the same time that was happening, we also had similar development in Ibarapa in Oyo State which led to temperate reactions in the state, but the governor of Oyo State, Makinde immediately took the right step, made a broadcast to try and douse the tension in the state. I’m also aware that he has since sent a team being lead by the Security Adviser and Commissioner of Police in Oyo State to the area.

“All of these points to the same issue that we are witnessing across the country. We feel very strongly in the Nigerian Governors Forum that we all should be working for the peace of the country.”

Speaking on the misconstruction of Akeredolu’s order, Fayemi said “I speak without any hesitation or reservation that the governor of Ondo State, a seasoned lawyer, a former president of the Nigeria Bar Association cannot under any guise talk about Fulani herdsmen vacating Ondo State.

“Vacating to go where? Vacating where they’ve lived, that they’ve traded and invested in, that they’ve been law-abiding citizens in. We know MACBAN in this part of the country. The South-West is a very accommodating region and there are people in MACBAN who were born here. Among them, there are those who speak better Yoruba than I do. They have a stake here, most of them have invested all their lives here.

“My understanding of what transpired was the statement referred to the forest areas, the reserves. It wasn’t even about evacuation. It’s about registration if you are going to continue to operate within the bounds of the law within the reserve area. This is what appears to have generated the agitation we’ve seen. Unfortunately in the age of social media, things get out of hand very quickly. This is what needs to stop.”

He, however, said that: “For us in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, what we are after is the apprehension of criminals of any view, criminals that are Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani.

“We are not after Fulani herdsmen. But there is nobody who does not feel a sense of insecurity in our country today. This issue of banditry, kidnapping, of general insecurity, is all-pervasive. And we have to be tough on crimes.

“There is a question that members of MACBAN are victims of crimes too, the way we – who are not members – are equally victims. Fulanis are kidnapped, robbed and assaulted. We need to deal with this rather than profile any ethnic group as being the one responsible for criminalities across the board. So, we are against criminality of any kind but, we also know that MACBAN is against criminality of any kind too.”

He posited that “the best way for us to apprehend people of the same ethnic identity who are involved in crime and criminality may sometime be to get intelligence from those who belong to that ethnicity.

“We also urged our security institutions to do their best not to cuddle crime of any kind. We can build roads, school but if there is no peace, nobody will be able to use them.”

Governor Seyi Makinde urged leaders and governors to create economic opportunities for the people in their various states, noting that this will go a long way to reduce criminalities the our country, and development thrives in a peaceful atmosphere.

Also speaking, the Jigawa governor, Badaru, saluted the courage of Governor Akeredolu and the governors of South-West for coming up to the challenge, noting that Akeredolu’s order was misrepresented.

“I can say this meeting is a successful one because the stakeholders have spoken with one voice but I want to appeal to the Fulani herdsmen in the state to adhere to the rules by registering with the state government. You cannot live in somebody’s house without them knowing you.

“The governor has not asked Fulani to vacate the state but ordered them to register with the state government and stop night grazing.”

The Kebbi governor, Abubakar who is the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) said “we must not cause agitation in order not to compound our problems and this meeting shows we are all on the same page.

“I can assure you that MACBAN will work with all the authorities in all the 36 states so that we collectively defeat enemies of progress in the land either they are Fulani or non-Fulani.”

The National President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) Alhaji Muhammadu Kirowa, while speaking, directed all Fulani herders in Ondo State and across the South-West region to put an end to both night and underaged grazing with immediate effect.

The MACBAN president also warned herders to desist from taking their cows to people’s farms for grazing, adding that the frequents farmers/herders clash is usually caused by the invasion of cattle to the farms and must be brought to an end.

“I want to plead with all our members to avoid allowing cows stray into farms and should stop small boys as a matter of urgency from going to grazing and night grazing must stop either in Ondo State, South-West or across the country.

“This is one of the reasons for the problem between the herders and the farmers. This has always been causing conflicts between farmers and herders. I can assure you of our support and cooperation,” he said.

He said the order given by Governor Akeredolu was not new, saying it was issued some two years ago, adding that those who wished to remain in the state and the government forest reserves should get registered.

While stressing that MACBAN is a peaceful association that values peace and condemned criminalities in any form, the president said MACBAN will continue to work with security agencies to fish out criminals.

He expressed the readiness of the herdsmen in the region to support the governors and the security agencies in bringing the criminals masquerading as herdsmen to justice.

The president, however, said the association was ready to abide by the rules and regulations of the government, saying Akeredolu never asked Fulanis to leave Ondo State but to get registered if they are illegally occupying the government forest reserves.

Akeredolu, however, said the order issued by his government is unambiguous, clear and precise, saying only herdsmen illegally occupying the state forest reserves were asked to vacate the forest.

Also present at the meeting are security agents across the South-West region.

 

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