The Association of Fulani Chiefs and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN have said a former Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, was not kidnapped by genuine Fulani herdsmen.
The Chairman of MACBAN, Ondo State chapter, Bello Garba, said this during a press conference in Lagos, where they faulted the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, for calling for the expulsion of Fulani herdsmen from the South-West.
“We’ve never had any issue with residents before. The disagreement with farmers has been ongoing for sometime but we have mediated and settled it on several occasions.
“Most of the Fulani people that came into Ondo came in as cattle breeders and you don’t expect them to just leave their animals and be kidnapping. We have been residing in Ondo State for more than 100 years and no one has ever accused us of any heinous crime in Ondo State or caught us with weapons.
“As an Ondo resident, I condemn this act. Clearly, this is impersonation. We live with our families in Ondo. How can we engage in such an act? We are pleading with law enforcement agents to do more investigation and expose the real perpetrators.”
Also speaking, the Sarkin Fulani of Lagos, Alhaji Mohammed Bambado, said it will not be in the interest of the Yoruba or Nigerians to denigrate cattle breeders at a time Nigeria was trying to diversify its economy and make agriculture more attractive.
“Need we remind our brothers (Afenifere) of the African Union and ECOWAS charters that give people and animals, particularly, livestock free movement within and across international borders of West African states. Such calls and actions are in direct breach of a number of international treaties and obligations regarding the free movement of persons and animals.
“Banning the movement of cattle from one part of Nigeria to another also violates the constitution of Nigeria on the freedom of movement of people and livestock. It also amounts to ethnic profiling of the nomadic Fulani.”
Garba admitted that Fulani herdsmen usually encroached on farms but argued that no Fulani herdsman would abandon his cattle and go about abducting people.
He, however, called on the Afenifere to join hands with the Fulani to find a lasting solution to the encroachment of herdsmen on farmlands.
He said if Nigeria failed to address the issue squarely, the country could start relying on other countries for cattle supply and this would further weaken the economy.