The Coalition of Pastoralists Associations of Nigeria (CPAN) has called the attention of the Nigerian government and the international community to the plight of the average cattle herder in Nigeria whose business is going down and who can lose his life anytime without consequences.
Addressing a world press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the coalition said the Nigerian state and other tribes are working hard to destroy the business of cattle rearing and chase the Fulani away from sight.
Speaking on behalf of CPAN, the President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Baba Othman Ngelzarma, said: CPAN wants to use this opportunity to draw the attention of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the international community to the existential dangers faced by the Fulani across Nigeria.
"There is no gainsaying that the easiest and most effective way of destroying a group of people is to destroy their businesses and sources of revenue for sustenance. The Nigerian state has in recent years watched the cattle rearing business go down the drain due to natural and man-made disasters.
"Backed with the conspiratorial silence of government, a lot of Nigerians especially sub national entities across the country have adopted the culture of intolerance towards our people and business of cattle rearing.
"To start with, we all know that global warming is a reality, and it has affected the Lake Chad massively, forcing our people to move down south in search of water and food for our livestock. While the Nigerian government has not lifted any finger to recharge the Lake Chad and make it habitable for our people, it has watched on helplessly as different communities and state governments across the North Central and Southern parts of the country treat the Fulani as irritants or second class citizens who have no right to live or who do not deserve to have a source of living.
"The state governments formulate obnoxious laws targeted at chasing our people away. They ban open grazing without providing infrastructure for alternatives. They therefore seize our cows and arrest our people recklessly, fine them unreasonable amounts and everyone is watching as if all is well.
"The Fulani have been the target of stereotypes, ethnic cleansing and mass murder in almost all states of the Federation. From Zamfara in the North-West to Adamawa, Taraba in the North-East, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa in the North-Central, down to Ondo and Oyo in the South-West, or worse still the South-Eastern states, the Fulani people have been a subject of hatred, annihilation for unjustifiable reasons."
The MACBAN leader specifically cited the case of Benue where he accused Governor Samuel Ortom of setting up a Tiv Militia called Livestock Guards with the sole aim of arresting, extorting and impoverishing the Fulani herders.
He also condemned the recent killing of tens of innocent herders in a village between the border of Nasarawa and Benue states by a military jet suspected to be owned by the Nigerian government, saying since the incident, no official has taken any step to visit, condole or compensate the community or families of the victims.
"Apart from the most recent bombardment of Tuesday 24th of January, 2023 in Akwanaja, there were similar airstrikes on innocent herders in Keana and Awe in Doma LGAs of Nasarawa State," he lamented.
Among other demands, the Fulani leaders asked the federal government to thoroughly investigate the killing of herders, punish offenders and compensate the victims.
They also called for the immediate disbandment of Tiv Militia allegedly set up by Governor Ortom to molest the Fulani people as well as the resumption of meetings and negotiations meant to guarantee peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers.
Other Fulani groups represented at the press conference were the Tabbital Pulaaku International TPI, Nigeria Chapter, Jonfe Jam Youth Development Association of Nigeria, Fulbe Development Association of Nigeria GAFDAN, Bandiraku Fulbe Youth Development and Right Initiative FGRDI and Farmers and Hunters Initiative for Peace and Development.