By Stanley Onyekwere
The Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Socio-Cultural Association has denied planning to invade Benue State with intent of causing chaos over the anti-open grazing law in the state.
National President of the association Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo and the National Secretary Engr Saleh Alhassan at a news conference told reporters yesterday in Abuja that Governor Samuel Ortom is ‘confused with his accusation and other comments with newsmen last Friday on Miyetti Allah’s stance on the law to be implemented from November 1.
“The Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore is not a splinter of any other group. This is socio-cultural organisation and one can only be a Fulani man to be a member unlike other associations related to cattle rearing and sales which can accommodate anyone is as much as they are in cattle rearing or sales businesses.
“Also Governor Samuel Ortom asking pastoralists to leave Benue State cannot happen. We have a mandate to speak on behalf of our members and their rights as Nigerians. How can a Nigerian ask other Nigerians to leave a place they are constitutionally entitled to be,” Bodejo who is also the Lamido Fulbe Nigeria said.
He maintained that the governor’s claim that the state lost N95bn between 20102 and 2016 is untrue as it has been the pastoralists who have always been at the receiving end of the conflicts especially with farmers.
On the call for his arrest and that of the National Secretary Engr Saleh Alhassan, Bodejo said Governor Ortom was using ‘threat and blackmail tactics’ knowing he was committing illegalities by trying to deny the pastoralists their means of livelihood hence his calling for the arrest of the association’s leaders to cover his veiled hatred for the Fulanis.
“We are law abiding and have always been championing pace and amicable resolutions of conflicts between pastoralists and farmers, the records are there.
“This was why we went to the court over this matter rather than result to self-help,” he said.
He also questioned the governor’s claim that the law was meant to protect both the farmers and herders alike.
According to him, there was no provision for the so called ranches except the intent to establish six detention centres where seized or ‘arrested’ cattle would be kept and auctioned after seven day thus legitimizing cattle rustling.
“The governor was also not specific on the fines for cattle rustling unlike the specific penalties for pastoralists who can be accused of open grazing,” he added.
He therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians to call Governor Ortom to order in the interest of peace and well-being of the state and the nation.