The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN), South-east zone, has said that most cases of attacks on farmers and rape of women in the area were carried out by migrant herders, rather than by its members.
It also explained that the recent shutdown of operations in South-east cattle market and settlements for two days was to sensitise its members against violence, and not a punitive measure as some believed it to be.
MACBAN said it would extend the shutdown of cattle markets and settlement to other states in the zone in the bid to purge itself of the violent elements.
Southeast Zonal Vice President of MACBAN, Gidado Siddiki, disclosed this while speaking yesterday to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka, Anambra State capital.
Miyetti Allah, had in collaboration with northern elders in Enugu, had shut down operations in cattle market and settlements for two days to sensitise its members against violence.
Siddiki said the action was neither a threat nor a protest, but an attempt to address from within, the numerous accusations against Fulani herdsmen over their alleged involvement in crime and rape in the area.
He said the Enugu shutdown was successful, as a number of persons among them who did not have business with herding or other legitimate activities had been asked to leave their fold.
“We shut down livestock and perishable goods markets to enable us sensitize our members on the need for peaceful co-existence, that they should be watchful to know when bad people infiltrate their midst and to chase them out.
“We have told them to belong to a group, those selling cattle, those selling goats, those carrying goods; everybody has to be identified by the leader of their group, even in the Fulani settlement. People must be known for their families.
“If there are people in these places who don’t have a business, we are telling them to leave Enugu and the entire South-east because we want to know those who are among us, so it is an internal audit,” he said.
Siddiki, who is also the leader of Fulani community in Anambra, commiserated with families of those who lost their loved ones in recent violent attacks in Enugu and expressed the commitment of his members to preventing a recurrence.
He said it had been observed that most of the troubles were caused by migrant herders while calling on his members to stop migrating from state to state within the South-east.
He said the sensitization would continue to the local government level of Enugu after which they would move to other states.
“The exercise is to show the indigenes, our hosts in the Southeast that we are so worried by the complaints and accusations of violence and crime which is pointing at us.
“We want to condole with the families of those that lost their loved ones; we want to assure them that we are worried about the development.
“We started with Enugu as the regional head of Southeast but we are going into other states of Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, and Imo to ensure that the message gets to our members everywhere already, our members in these states are waiting for us.
“We have identified that those causing problems among the Fulani are the migrants; that is why we are saying that migration should stop, people should stay where they are and graze their cattle,” he said.