Members of a community in Gwaram Local Government Area of Jigawa State have given some herders one month to quit a settlement they said they had lived in for about 40 years.
Shehu Juli, one of the herders, told PREMIUM TIMES the quit notice was issued by Auwalu Adamu, the district head of Fagam, whom he said asked them to leave or face the wrath of the community.
Mr. Juli said his family and that of his neighbour, Muhammadu Dade, were suddenly told by the district head that the owner of the land wanted to recover it.
Mr.Dade said he got the quit notice one week after the death of his father, Mohammadu Jingi. He said the district head sent some people to his family while it was still mourning.
“They told me to sign a particular document which I don’t have knowledge about. Later, they told me that the land my late father used was not part of our inheritance and that we should therefore quit the settlement within one month.
Mr. Dade’s aged mother told PREMIUM TIMES that the development was the worst persecution she had seen in her life. The woman who gave her name as Ladi, narrated her ordeal to PREMIUM TIMES in tears from a seat on a mud bed in her hut.
“We have been living here in peace for more than forty years. Just because my husband died, they told us to leave here and we don’t know any other place apart from here.
“This is where we have been rearing our cattle and farming for more than four decades. They told us to vacate the area. How are we going to start afresh? Our foodstuff is about to finish,” she said, pointing at a half bag of guinea corn.
“What really shocked me most was that the person sent to give us the quit notice was my late husband’s trustee. I cried but he didn’t sympathise with us, he just walked away,” Mrs. Ladi said.
Auwalu Adamu, the district head of Fagam, told PREMIUM TIMES that the herders were asked to leave “because they refused to renew their settlement dues.
“The payment of dues by herdsmen is a tradition in this area and their late father never defaulted,” the district head explained..
However, the chairman of the cattle breeders group, Miyetti Allah, in Jigawa State, Sa’idu Musa Gagarawa, said the herders will not vacate the settlement.
He said they could only be evicted if the state government allocated the land for development purposes, in which case, he said, the government would pay the herders compensation before taking over the land.
“Chasing those people out of the state is not security wise as I learned that they are relocating to another neighbouring community in Bauchi State. This may not augur well,” he said.
“We call on the Emir of Dutse, Alhaji Muhammad Nuhu Sunusi , and the authorities concerned to call the district head of Fagam to order to withdraw the quit notice because he lacks the power and authority to ask people to vacate their settlement without following due process.
“Fulani across the state are facing similar persecution in the hands of local traditional rulers, especially in Kirikasamma, Guri, Auyo local government areas. The district heads do collude with some magistrate judges to revoke and allocate demarcated land area meant for grazing to their accomplice.”
Mr. Gagarawa said the state government “needs to speed up the process of demarcating all grazing reserves and other gazetted land area to avoid further escalation of trouble in the state.”
Speaking on the development, Rabiu Miko, the Executive Secretary of the state’s Farmers/Herdsmen Board, said all land belongs to the government and that only the governor has the right to allocate land for any purpose.
“The state government will identify the land whether it is a grazing reserve and come up with a solution in the area,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
The state police commissioner, Bala Senchi, told PREMIUM TIMES that he was not aware of the issue but stated that a district head lack the power to evict citizens.
“The Miyetti Allah has the responsibility to protect and defend its members in the state. They have not informed the Police on the issue but I will send my boys to go and investigate the matter,” Mr. Senchi said.