Ohanaeze Ndigbo Proffers Solution To Fulani Herdsmen Crisis | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ohanaeze Ndigbo Proffers Solution To Fulani Herdsmen Crisis

Gary Enwo-Igariwey 1
Posted: May 11, 2016 at 3:30 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Ejikeme Omenazu

Lagos- Many Nigerians and several  organisations have continued to lament and condemn the continued killings of innocent citizens by the rampaging Fulani cattle rearers and herdsmen, across the country. The Federal Government, which seemed to be docile on the matter, recently sent an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for the establishment of grazing centres, in parts of the country.
After the gruesome murder of over 500 people in Agatu communities in Benue State and their nefarious activities across the country, including the kidnap of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae in his farm in Ondo State, the recent killing of over 1,000 people in Enugu State communities has drawn the ire of citizens. This time, it is the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Ndigbo.
The body on Wednesday April 27, 2016, submitted a position paper to the House Of Representatives Committee On Agriculture, Production And Services, in which it stated the urgent need for the Federal Government to address the incessant clashes between herdsmen, farmers and their host communities. The paper is titled “Memorandum On The Urgent Need To Address The Incessant Clashes Between Herdsmen, Farmers And Their Host Communities, And On The Current Grazing Reserve And Route Bill 2016.”
In it, the Ohanaeze stated “The feelings and thoughts of our Igbo people on this subject matter, which has continued to generate tension and pain among our people.”  It lamented that many lives and properties were lost in Nimbo, Uzo uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State to these clashes.
Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey , the  President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo  World-Wide, who signed the document, lamented: “The grief is fresh in our hearts and we are sincerely determined to engage in processes that will bring to an end this unnecessary shedding of blood that threatens our very existence as a nation. “
The Igbo chieftain described the current upsurge in clashes between herdsmen and farmers across the country with impunity and impudence as well as the use of sophisticated weapons by the herdsmen as a new phenomenon in the country.
Enwo-Igariwey stated that the intensity, frequency and ferocity of clashes between herdsmen and rural farmers, especially in the North-Central and Southern Nigeria, constitute a clear and present danger to our national cohesion. This is as he maintained that the number of deaths, burnt houses, rapes, and murder of the citizenry are too gruesome to be acceptable to any government.
He said: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on behalf of the Igbo speaking people of Nigeria considers the present situation and development unacceptable and an affront to the peaceful communities trying to eke out a living from subsistence farming in their God-given communities.
“Nomadic herdsmen disappeared in Europe and other developed countries centuries ago. In most civilised societies, ranches have been established for better forms of farming. Products from ranches have been seen to be healthier, easy to feed and raise; more productive and economical; and eliminates nomadic tendencies with the attendant drawbacks. It also eliminates conflicts between farmers and herdsmen.
“In Nigeria, several methods have been deployed including the setting up of grazing reserves and routes. In most of these routes and reserves, clashes occur regularly especially in the Southern part of the country where land area is limited. Initially these clashes were not as deadly, but over time, with increase in population and the pressure on available land for farming, the clashes intensified with the herdsmen becoming more daring in their activities. The herdsmen are now armed with automatic weapons and entire communities have been sacked and destroyed with high human fatalities. “
The security implications to the existence of Nigeria, he stressed, was better imagined, adding that more than Boko Haram, the greatest threat facing Nigeria today is the nomadic herdsmen. He said the problem of the herdsman is made worse because they are more widespread and many of them are foreigners.
“They are armed found in all parts of the country making it easy for them to carry out a synchronised destabilisation of the country. This in turn will lead to the establishment of ethic militia groups who will rise to defend these acts of impunity on their various communities. Only few nations can survive this scenario.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo stated: “Cattles rearing is private business like every other business. It is therefore an absurdity, an infringement and abuse of other citizens right for the Federal Government to think of acquiring grazing land in perpetuity across the country as suggested in the grazing bill 2016 under consideration. “
It described the bill as out rightly unconstitutional, discriminatory and equally unfair, stressing that it was unjust for the Federal Government to acquire land across the country as grazing land for herdsman, who it identified as private businessmen, asking, “ Will the same rights and privileges be extended to other categories of farmers across the country?”  Ohanaeze wondered why the Federal Government should be making strenuous efforts to acquire community lands all over Nigeria for private business belonging to a few Nigerians.
It added: “It baffles Ohanaeze Ndigbo that herdsmen are allowed to bear sophisticated weapons to the view of law enforcement agents, while for other Nigerians it is against the laws to do so. Are we now operating two sets of laws? We believe that the stiff enforcement of the law on bearing of prohibited fire-arms will reduce the current tension. More importantly, all cases of herdsmen, farmers, community clashes should be thoroughly investigated by Government and culprits brought to book as deterrent.”  It said the idea of the grazing bill was outrageous and even provocative, as it would not augur well for Nigeria’s peace and security, but a threat to  national coexistence.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo hereby calls on all the good people of Nigeria, especially members of the National Assembly to avoid putting this nation in harms way by considering such a bill. The National Assembly and indeed the Federal Government should consider the dangerous consequences of this bill to our collective national interest and existence, “the Ohanaeze stressed.
The body recommended that security agents must disarm the herdsmen immediately and that under no circumstance must herdsmen bear prohibited arms. This, it stressed, would reduce their capacity to attack communities.
It said there must be mutual respect between farming communities and the herdsmen. It added that under no circumstance should cattle be allowed to graze through farmlands, stressing that state legislations should be put in place to set the guidelines for grazing within states as Nigeria is a federation.
Others are: “Identification and effective policing of flash points to prevent those attacks before they occur. Resettlement and rehabilitation of affected communities should be urgently pursued and identification of herdsmen for easy tracking by security agencies within states. This will also help in identifying foreign elements amongst them with attendant security implications.

On the long term solution, “The practice in large livestock producing countries is the establishment of ranches. The benefits are enormous and it removes conflicts. Our farmers must be educated on the benefits of ranches. Nomadic practice of raising cattle is obsolete, ineffective and inefficient.  Therefore ranches should be set up by farmers only in states that desire them.”

However, just last week, President Buhari broke his long silence on the issue, saying that a decisive step had been taken by the government to end the killings. Buhari, who spoke through Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, said he directed the Minister of Defence and the Inspector General of Police to put an end to the herdsmen’s menace. Buhari condemned the attack on Nimbo community, saying that the attack and killings were unacceptable. Buhari sued for understanding among Nigerians, pledging that his administration would not fail in its promise of enthroning a positive change in the country.


Comments (1)

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