By Tony Ogbekile
Fulani herdsmen under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore have vowed to resist any eviction from the South-West, citing their rights as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution to live wherever they desire. Miyetti Allah also vowed to avenge the alleged attacks on and loss of herdsmen and their cattle, saying it would never tolerate any act of injustice on herders. The National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Mr Alhassan Saleh, stated these in an interview against a backdrop of the eviction notices issued to criminal herdsmen by some South-West groups and personalities.
Saleh said it was wrong to drive herders out of any part of Nigeria and that even if there were criminals among them; it was the function of the government’s security forces to identify and arrest them. He said the eviction of herdsmen from the southern region of the country was a dangerous precedent and that the best way to solve the herders-farmers crisis was for state governments to provide ranches and grazing routes for the herders and their animals.
Similarly, the leaders of Miyetti Allah in some states in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones have said they are not ready to leave the regions anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Yoruba Council of Elders and the Oodua People’s Congress have insisted that criminal Fulani herdsmen and criminals from other ethnic groups will not be allowed to wreak havoc on the South-West.
The Secretary-General of the YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide, who spoke on behalf of his group on Saturday, said the region had been under the siege of killer herdsmen, kidnappers, vandals and others, but vowed that an end must come to these. He said the Yoruba people were unanimous in their resolve to rid the region of hoodlums who had made life unsafe for residents, saying anybody who wanted to live in the South-West must be ready to abide by the laws in place.
Also, the National Coordinator of the OPC (New Era), Rasak Arogundade, said the forests in the South-West were the heritage of the Yoruba people and that Fulani and other people must be ready to abide by the laws of the states in the region if they wanted to do anything there.
Nobody can force us out of
South-West –Miyetti Allah
Nobody has the right (to evict herdsmen). If you say you are going to evict us, we will resist eviction. We have been surviving in harsh environments; if we do not resist, we will be wiped out of the planet. If you kill a herder, don’t go and sleep, we will revisit you, and it’s not because we hate your tribe.
People attack herders, and in one way or the other, herders have found a way to retaliate.”
“All those who travelled to the Benin Republic and others are coming back home.
All those saying they will bar foreign herders from entering Nigeria are just playing to the gallery because if they are aware of the ECOWAS Protocols, they would know they cannot chase them away. That is why the position of the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, is the true position.
You have no right to evict anybody from any part of the country. “Our number has increased recently because of the tension in Ghana and Benin republics. The ones in Benin Republic have integrated with the Yoruba in such a way that they speak the language. They were initially living in the South-West, and they are coming back,”
“They expected a reaction from us, maybe by way of attacking other ethnic nationalities. But that is wrong because the herders they are attacking are the innocent herders. Are the criminals representing anybody? They are doing their criminal enterprise. Our own pain is that the people who are supposed to know are pretending as if they don’t know.
Criminal herdsmen must leave
South West – YCE, OPC
We are not asking law-abiding people to leave the South-West. We are asking criminals, whether Fulani or others, to leave the region. Criminals must leave the South-West and whoever wants to live here must abide by the laws here. “We will not permit anybody to graze on our forests.
“Nobody will be allowed to graze on our forests, whether you are Miyetti Allah or whatever. Anybody who wants to raise livestock in the South-West must be law-abiding. If the law says no to open grazing, you must abide by it.
“Miyetti Allah is deceiving its members by saying herdsmen will not leave the South-West. We are not saying Fulani should not carry out their legitimate trade, but we are against the bandits, kidnappers and rapists, among them.
“Yoruba people are very patient and we don’t react except we are pushed to the wall, but when it gets to that time, anything can happen. Let Miyetti Allah know that (Buhari) will not be the President of Nigeria forever. He will leave soon.
“They said they had been preparing for war and we will show them that we are not cowards. We will give them whatever they want. Yoruba people are residing in the north, but are they terrorizing their hosts? Are they raping their women and destroying the means of livelihood of their hosts the way the Fulani are doing here?
“Fulani people are not the only ethnic group residing in the South-West. There are many people from other ethnic groups living here, and they don’t behave the way the Fulani people do. Why must it be Fulani herdsmen behind almost every wicked and despicable act everywhere? They should begin to behave in acceptable ways if they want to continue to live with us.
“The forests in our region belong to us. They have forests in their own place also; they should go to their forests and occupy them. They keep misbehaving and they are arrogant about it because Buhari is the President. But that can’t last forever.”