The Fulani Herdsmen association Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) has said that giving the anti-open grazing law another look could stop the killings and bring peace to Benue State, Punch reports.
Benue State had signed into law an anti-open grazing bill, stoping herdsmen around the state from encroaching upon farmlands.
Secretary-General of MACBAN, Usman Ngelzerma has said it is impossible for people to suddenly change the way of life they’re used to.
He said giving the law another look could bring peace to the state, adding that his association has no wish for the killings to continue. He said:
I like the Benue State governor. He is a peace-loving person but is working on wrong advice. The approach he took is wrong. You cannot change the way of life of a people like the way you turn off a light switch.
We don’t wish for the crisis to continue but let us give it (the law) another look. We don’t like the killings; we will never condone the killing of people. Give the farmers their rights but consider the pastoralists too.
Ngelzerma blamed another faction of the association, the Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore for the threats issued to the state government.
He also blamed the January 1 killings that led to the death of at least 20 persons on livestock guards who he said have “constituted themselves to the police and the court at the same time.” He said:
The livestock guards have constituted themselves to the police and the court at the same time. They impose penalties on herdsmen, fine them huge sums of money before releasing them. That was the situation before this crisis erupted.
I was told that shortly before this crisis, the guards went to make some arrests in a particular community and they met stiff resistance from the Fulani because they were already tired of the persistent harassment from the guards, not the police or the DSS, army or constituted authority.
This was what led to the violence and unnecessary deaths that followed which we do not condone.