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Banning nomadic cattle rearing, violation of 1999 constitution – Fulani chiefs

* Says banning centuries-old means of survival is like bringing Fulani clan into extinction

* We’re open for discussions on how they can do ranches – Afenifere

By Dapo Akinrefon

The Association of Fulani Chiefs of South West Nigeria and Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, have faulted the proposed ban on cattle rearers by Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, saying it is in violation of 1999 Constitution which protects free movement of people and livestock.

Fulani Herdsmen
Fulani Herdsmen

Addressing a press conference in Lagos, the chairman, Association of South West Fulani Chiefs, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Bambado also frowned at the recent kidnapping and release of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae.

Recall that Afenifere had warned all Fulani herdsmen to stay away from Yoruba land henceforth or face dare consequences.

A communique issued by Yinka Odumakin accused the Fulani herdsmen who abducted Chief Falae of carrying out vengeance mission.

The Communique read by Odumakin said “We demand that nomadic cattle rearing should be stopped in every state of Yoruba land. We believe now that after what has happened to chief Falae, people would not tolerate such thing in any part of Yoruba land. So while we await the arrest of the criminals, the cattle rearing should be stop in Yoruba land.”

Condemning the activities of kidnappers in the zone, Bambado, who is the Sarkin Fulanin Lagos, said “much as we, as a group condemn in its entirety, the criminal act of kidnapping of anybody or individual for ransom, there is need for us to be cautious in taking rash decisions and making unwarranted statements that could cause socio-cultural or socio-political disorder in our country Nigeria at this very critical period.”

While he faulted the banning of cattle rearers in the South West, the Fulani leader said “such calls (banning of cattle rearing or movement in Southwest Nigeria) is not in the best interest of anybody be it Yoruba, Fulani or any tribe whatsoever and as such, we must be seen to be equal partners in this project Nigeria.”

In addition, he lamented the activities of Fulani herdsmen, who engage in the wanton destruction of farmlands across the country characterised by the movement of cattles across the length and breadth of Nigeria, saying “we are working round the clock to look for ways to resolve the issues for good.”

He, however, appealed to Afenifere leaders to co-operate and work with “us so that we can have a lasting solution to the perennial clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria. Nomadic grazing and cattle rearing is a prominent and permanent socio-cultural and socio-economic means of survival of a Fulani man. To stop this cultural trait and means of survival of centuries old is like bringing the Fulani clan into extinction.”

“Need we remind our brothers (Afenifere), the African Union and ECOWAS charter that gives people and animals particularly live stocks free movement within and across international borders of West African states. Such calls and actions is in obligation regarding the free movement of persons and animal. Banning the movement of cattle and persons in Nigeria, also violates the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on freedom of movement of people and livestock, it also amoutt to ethnic profiling of the nomadic Fulani,” he added.

We’re open for discussions—Afenifere

But in a swift reaction, Afenifere said it was open to discussions with the Fulani leaders on ways to ensure harmonious co-existence in the South West.

Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin said “We acknowlege the appreciation of the wrongs the herdsmen have done  to their hosts and the promise to find solution to the problem. We, hoewever, reject their quoting international treaties to justify the right of cows to graze freely as if they are citizens who have gumption to know how to distinguish between  grass and crops that the owners of the land sweated for. Are there treaties that say they should rob, kidnap and rape women?

In addition, he said, “we are ready to talk with them on how to do ranches and ensure harmonious co-existence but we have had enough of normadic activities that have led to these clashes over the years. If they insisted that nomadic grazing is the way of life for the Fulani, which is now putting our own people in harm’s way, the north has the biggest land mass in Nigeria which should serve them well.”

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