The Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, has condemned the proposal by the Northern Governors Forum, NGF, to open a register for immigrant Fulani herdsmen it earlier described as aliens and threats to Nigeria’s internal security.
Chairman of the Northern Governor’s Forum, NGF, Kashim Shetima of Borno State, told journalists in Kaduna on Tuesday after the forum’s meeting that it would work with relevant authorities to secure Nigeria’s borders and register Fulani immigrants entering into the country to rear cattle.
The chairman of the forum, Kashim Shettima of Borno, spoke at the end of the forum’s meeting in Kaduna, on Tuesday.
According to him, the governors knew that most of the herdsmen involved in killing Nigerian farmers were immigrants from Senegal and Mali.
“We also mapped out new strategies that would be used by the local Fulani herdsmen to rear their cattle without having to move across the country,” he had said.
But a statement by the group Publicity Secretary, Kunle Famoriyo, on Friday, slammed the northern governors for denying culpability of herdsmen in killings in the country, and for defending them.
“ARG also notes that herdsmen currently constitute a huge threat, not only to lives, but also to food security in Southwest,” the statement read.
“Our people, who are largely smallholding farmers, cannot work at their full capacity, living at the mercy of cows and conniving policemen.
“This has aggravated the sweeping poverty in Nigeria and has displaced many of our people. Nigeria’s socioeconomic indices is clear that farmers, not herdsmen, should get higher priority from government, being a higher employer of labour, higher contributor to tax, FOREX earning and GDP.
“ARG is therefore gravely concerned that state governors who swore to protect Nigeria’s constitution are the ones promoting alien interest.
“Or what logic is there in opening a register for agents of external aggression? It is shameful that the NGF could not even pretend and hide its readiness to sacrifice the rest of Nigeria for Fulani interest in its veiled reference to ‘national integration and cohesion’ as the solution to herdsmen menace.”
The group blasted the Kaduna Governor, Nasir Elrufai, for his recent comments on Aljazeera TV that herdsmen who were responsible for the deaths of Nigerians must be accommodated because Nigeria is signatory to ECOWAS’s treaty on trans-humane pastoralist protocol.
It queried why ECOWAS treaties are only obligatory where it concerns Fulani interest as there are other treaties that Nigeria has ignored.
The group also cited the recent ban on car importation through land borders which Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, said to have been done to stop influx of illegal arms.
It wondered why the policy could be implemented swiftly, at great economic loss to Nigerians and despite a Senate order against it, whereas nothing has been done to disarm herdsmen who freely roam about with sophisticated weapons.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that Nigerian authorities will not address the menaces of Fulani herdsmen as should be done in a sane country and NGF’s latest proposal therefore remains to be seen as a workable idea,” the statement said.
“This further shows that ethnocentric interest, rather than the Rule of Law, governs Nigeria.”
ARG stressed that the only workable solutions were to outlaw open grazing, arrest and prosecute arms-bearing herdsmen, and promote ranching systems.
“Farmers are paying for land use, why should herdsmen not? Conversely, if herdsmen are justified to bear arms, why should farmers not do same?” the group queried.
“ARG therefore hold the view that should herdsmen continue to get higher priority, our farmers would be right to resort to self-defence because where injustice becomes a law, resistance becomes a duty.”