The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), the umbrella body of Nigeria’s Fulani herdsmen, has commiserated with Benue Government over the recent clashes between herdsmen and Tiv farmers in some communities in Buruku Local Government Area of the state.
The group’s message came Saturday, days after the Benue State government ordered armed herders to leave the state, accusing them of killing locals in the latest outbreak of violence in the Buruku area.
Miyetti Allah group said while it commiserated with victims and the people of Benue, the government’s eviction order was “unconstitutional”.
In a statement, the Secretary-General of the association, Baba Othman-Ngelzarma, said MACBAN was saddened by the latest incident which led to deaths and destruction of property.
“Regrettably, this ugly incident is coming at a time the two feuding groups had been enjoying some respite from previous skirmishes which had been achieved through consistent engagement and strategy by stakeholders.
“We consider this crisis as a serious setback to our collective desire for peace in Benue State and the nation in general,’’ Mr. Othman-Ngelzarma said.
He said MACBAN condemned the return of hostilities between pastoralists and farmers.
“We, therefore, wish to use this medium to commiserate with the affected communities, to condole the people of Buruku Local Government, in particular, and the Government of Benue State in general.
“We assure you of our support and cooperation in adopting all measures to determine the root causes of the unfortunate happening,’’ the secretary said.
He, however, added that the incident should not be allowed to derail the success recorded in the area of building peace through mutual understanding and respect.
The secretary said “MACBAN will not accept any act of violence by whosoever under any pretext.
“Our members, are therefore, warned strongly against taking laws into their hands as the leadership is poised to follow established due process in addressing those vexing issues affecting them.
“We also appreciate the efforts of His Excellency, Gov. Samuel Ortom, the leadership of Buruku Local Government Council and the security agencies in sanitising the area of hostilities.
“At the same time we are wary of the statement allegedly credited to the governor requesting herdsmen to relocate out of the state.’’
Mr. Othman-Ngelzarma described the statement by the governor as “unconstitutional” and said herdsmen could not be exempted from enjoying similar rights of free movement as being enjoyed by other Nigerians.
“We demand that the laws of the land must be allowed to function without let or hindrance,” he said.
Mr. Ortom had given Fulani herdsmen in Tombo-Mbalagh, Buruku Local Government Area of Benue two days to leave the area following a weekend attack in which eight people died.
He gave the order during an assessment visit to the area and said armed herdsmen were not welcome in the state.
The governor said that as the chief security officer of the state he had a responsibility to protect the people. (NAN)