The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, and leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, on Tuesday met in Ado-Ekiti to address contentious issues in the enforcement of the state’s Anti-Grazing Law.
Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of cattle breeders in the country, had representatives from all the local government areas in the state.
At the meeting, Mr. Fayose said he has 83 cows under the care of someone, whom he had warned not to flout the law.
He said he was not against the interest of Fulani herders and their people in the state.
The governor expressed happiness that the leaders of MACBAN decided to contact the state government instead of listening to rumours being peddled around by the opposition.
”I have nothing against you or any other ethnic group,” he told the herdsmen. “Nobody should bring politics into this matter. If a Yoruba person destroys your property I will defend you too.”
Mr. Fayose said as a leader, he would not discriminate against any ethnic group, noting that the law of the land was not against anybody who obeys it but those who flout it.
“It is the people destroying other people’s farms that are causing this problem,” he said.
”We have given lands to people to farm and they have paid, some for many years to use the lands and when somebody now comes and destroys their means of livelihood and make them suffer losses, we won’t allow that.
“It is the bad people that make others suffer. If anybody says Fayose is after Hausa or Fulani people, that person has no sense. During my first term, I appointed a man from Malumfashi as a Special Adviser. This term too, I appointed Musa Kanga into the Pilgrims Welfare Board.
“In Oke Ako-Ekiti, last May, two persons were killed, people’s wives raped by those hiding under the guise of rearing cattle.
“I have 83 cows too and I have told the person taking care of them that if he goes against the law and any of them is seized, he will be responsible for that.”
Governor Fayose also emphasised the need for herders to avoid leading cows along major roads and city centres, saying that had caused fatal vehicular accidents in the past.
“If you have not been to London or America, I guess some of you have been to Mecca. Did you see cattle breeders leading their cattle across city centres and major roads, with the cows defecating everywhere?” the governor asked.
“This is not done and it is not that the people in those places don’t have cows they breed too.”
On the claim that marshals appointed to enforce the Anti-Grazing Law were shooting cows, the governor said it was untrue, adding that the marshals were not armed.
On the demand by the MACBAN leaders that they be part of the patrol teams to enforce the law, the governor acceded and commended their effort to support his administration in getting rid of bad eggs among the cattle breeders.
Governor Fayose also said a meeting of community leaders, government officials, MACBAN members and security agents would hold later in the week for further deliberations.
The Ekiti State MACBAN chairman, Muhammad Nasamu, commended the governor for his frankness and openness.
He noted that the meeting had disabused the minds of his members about wrong information being circulated by some people about the governor and the state government.
”Seeing you face to face and hearing from you has quelled all the strange stories we are hearing,” Nasamu said.
“Leaders from across the federation have been calling me saying ‘where are you?’, and that they have been hearing funny stories from the state, but now we know the truth.
“Ekiti is my home and anybody who spoils the name of Ekiti is spoiling my name. Today that we have met, we are suggesting that farmers and Fulani rearers be part of the marshals who will patrol across the state.
“When that is done, there will no longer be any trouble. Those in the office don’t know what is happening in the bush and we will try and bridge the communication gap.”
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