Free-range grazing must be stopped ―Southwest governors, Miyetti Allah agree

GOVERNORS under the umbrella of the Southwest Governors’ Forum on Monday converged on Akure, the Ondo State capital, to resolve and adopt the executive order of the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, that night grazing and underage herding should be banned across the region.

The meeting also resolved that free-range grazing must stop. According to them, this is important “so as to avoid conflicts between the farmers and herders.”

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

The meeting, attended by four of the six state governors from the region -governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Akeredolu (Ondo) and the leadership of Miyetti Allah, resolved that all herdsmen plying their trade in the various states should be duly registered with the state governments.

Governors of Jigawa and Kebbi states, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar and Bagudu Abubakar respectively, who were also at the meeting which lasted about three hours, said it became necessary in order to douse the tension over the vacation order by Akeredolu, saying the Ondo State 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 (as amended), 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 ethnicity 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 re- serves in Ondo State illegally to quit.”

The stakeholders agreed that criminals should be apprehended and punished, no matter their state of origin, class or status. They stated that security agencies have been trying to stem the tide of criminality in the country, but must step up their efforts. They also stressed the need to build a partnership for peace and security with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and jointly wage war against criminality, maintaining 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 their 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 desires 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 farmers and herders. “Strengthening an alternative security arrangement 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 practise ranching to prevent cattle roaming about.”

They also resolved that “standing committee, comprising 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 had said the emergency meeting was summoned to enable the leaders to address some matters of urgent importance to the survival of the region and the well-being of the people of the region, and Nigeria as a whole.

He said: “Everybody recognises the importance of this meeting to national security, peace, national integration and development.

The statement as regards the ultimatum by Governor Akeredolu was misconstrued and generated a lot of reactions.

“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 by making a broadcast to try and douse the tension in the state. I am also aware that he has since sent a team led by the Security Adviser and Commissioner of Police in Oyo State to the area.

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

Speaking about Akeredolu being misconstrued, Fayemi said: “I speak without any hesitation or reservation that the governor of Ondo State, a seasoned lawyer, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) cannot un- der any guise talk about Fulani herdsmen vacating Ondo State.

“Vacating to where? Vacating where they have lived, that they have traded and invested in, that they have been law-abiding citizens? 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. There those who speak better Yoruba than I do. They have stakes here, as 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 was not even about evacuation. It was about registration if you are going to continue to operate within the bound of the law within the reserve area. This is what appears to me to have generated the agitation we have seen. Unfortunately, in the age of social media, things get out of hand very quickly. This is what needs to stop. He, however, said “for us in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, what we are after is the apprehension of criminals of any view – criminals who are Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo or Fulani.

“We are not after Fulani herdsmen. But there is nobody who does not feel a sense of insecurity in our country today. These issues of banditry, kidnapping, of general insecurity are 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, as we also know that MACBAN is against criminality of any kind too.

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

We’ll not use criminality to solve criminality —Makinde

Oyo State governor, Makinde, in his address said the meeting was not about politics, but a meeting about “a serious challenge we are faced with.” Makinde vowed that “we will not use criminality to solve criminality, as nobody can predict what will end such. We will continue to work with our people to face the kidnappers, bandits and robbers who are our common enemies. We have to deal with the issue of fake news.”

He added that he will continue to promote good neighbourliness and support the security agencies for them to do their work. The governor also promised that “we will continue to expand the economy and provide job opportunities for our people. We will continue to provide the leadership the country needs at this time.”

I recommend MACBAN —Oyetola

Osun State governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, says criminality has no ethnic coloration and that some criminals masquerading as herdsmen must be identified.

“In Osun State, we have a committee made up of farmers and herdsmen represented by MACBAN and government representatives Standing committee will help. “I recommend this for other states. Sometimes, it is a question of communication. Every Nigerian has a right to stay anywhere in the country.”

There is so much instigation in the South, North —Abubakar

Jigawa State governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, said he was delighted to be at the meeting and appreciated the position of his colleagues. He, however, stressed that “there is so much instigation in the South and the North by those who do not wish the country well, to cause the crisis.”

The governor added that they won’t tolerate criminality in any form and fight criminals – ethnic or religious inclination notwithstanding. “In Jigawa, criminality is very low, as everyone is engaged in fighting crime, even MACBAN does arrest criminals. The Ondo State governor did not order Fulani herdsmen out of Ondo State, he only said he wants to identify and profile those who will operate in the forests. Commend the collaboration among the security agencies in securing the country,” Abubakar said.

We need to invest in modernisation of pastoral farming —Bagudu

The Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who is the chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, in his address said insecurity is the same across the country. “We need to invest in modernisation of pastoral farming to reduce crisis. Security agencies should work together to identify and apprehend criminally-minded individuals in society, whether they are Fulanis or not.”

Let’s work together to chase criminals out of Ondo —Akeredolu

Governor Akeredolu appreciated his Ekiti State counterpart for initiating the meeting. He said kidnappers are using forest reserves as an area of operation for kidnapping. “Even our farmers are registered. We all agreed no night grazing, no underage grazing. We will ban grazing in cities. I assure you we can all work together to chase all criminals away from the state. We must be able to identify and move them out of the forest reserves. We must protect everyone living in Ondo State,” Akeredolu said.

Fulani herders must put an end tonight and underage grazing across South-West —MACBAN

In his address, the national president of MACBAN, Alhaji Muhammadu Kirowa, directed all Fulani herders in Ondo State and across the South-West region to put an end to both night and underage grazing with immediate effect.

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

“I want to plead with all our members to avoid allowing cows straying 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 herders and 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 is 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 condemns criminalities in any form, the president said MACBAN would 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 chairman, however, said the association is ready to abide by the rules and regulations of the government, adding that Akeredolu never asked Fulani 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 was unambiguous, clear and precise, adding that only herdsmen illegally occupying the state forest reserves were asked to vacate the forest. The meeting was also attended by security chiefs from the South-West zone, led by the AIG Zone II.

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