The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) at the weekend decried the ruinous activities of Fulani herdsmen in the South-west of the country, warning that except the federal government reined in the nomadic cattle rearers, the food security of the region would be undermined.
While stating that the zone’s farmers were no longer able to work at full capacity because of the ruinous activities of the herdsmen, the ARG said the farmers would now have to defend themselves and their property if the security agencies failed to check the killer cattle herders.
The group also condemned the proposal by Northern Governors Forum (NGF) to open a register for immigrant Fulani herdsmen, whom the forum identified as aliens and threats to Nigeria’s internal security.
It said there was no rationale for the proposal, arguing that once the aliens had been found to be injurious to Nigerian citizens, the appropriate thing government should do was to expel them from the country.
The group in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Famoriyo, at the weekend lamented that the South-west farmers could not work at their full capacity due to the ruinous activities of Fulani herdsmen.
It therefore called for a ban on open grazing and the arrest and prosecution of arms-bearing herdsmen to stem further loss of lives and property.
It also said the way forward was to establish and promote ranching in order to stop the prevailing conflicts between herdsmen and farmers.
ARG said: “Farmers are paying for land use. So, why should herdsmen not? If herdsmen are justified to bear arms, why should farmers not do same? If 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.”
The group suggested that the only workable solutions were to outlaw open grazing; arrest and prosecute arms-bearing herdsmen and promote ranching systems.
The ARG said the region’s food security was being threatened by the destructive activities of herdsmen as its farmers, who are largely smallholding farmers, could no longer work at their full capacity, but now live at the mercy of cows and conniving policemen.
According to the group: “This has aggravated the sweeping poverty in Nigeria and has displaced many of our people. Nigeria’s socio-economic indices are 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.”
It rejected a proposal by the NGF that a register should be opened for immigrant Fulani herdsmen, whom they described as aliens and threats to the country’s internal security.
It expressed concern that the Northern state governors, who swore to protect Nigeria’s constitution, were the ones promoting alien interest.
ARG said: “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’s menace.
“For example, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, arrogantly and cold-heartedly declared on Aljazeera recently that killer herdsmen must be accommodated because Nigeria is a signatory to ECOWAS’s treaty on trans-humane pastoralist protocol. We wonder if ECOWAS treaties are only obligatory where it concerns Fulani interest as there are other treaties that Nigeria has ignored.
“Another example is the recent ban on car importation through land borders which Comptroller General Hameed Ali said was done to stop influx of illegal arms. If this policy could be implemented swiftly, at great economic loss to stakeholders and despite a Senate order against it, why has nothing been done to disarm herdsmen who freely roam about with sophisticated weapons?”