The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria yesterday cautioned its members in Ebonyi to stop destroying agricultural farmlands in order to end herders/farmers clashes in the state.
Alhaji Baba Ngelzerma, Secretary-General of the association gave the advice on Thursday in Abakaliki during a stakeholders meeting convened by Gov. David Umahi on ways of permanently resolving the incessant clashes.
Ngelzerma urged its members in the state to respect the rights of farmers to reciprocate the commendable level of accommodation afforded them by people of the state.
“There would have been no problem between herders and farmers across the country if our members are accommodated the way Ebonyi people accommodate us.
“The herders should realise that the farmers’ crops are dear to them just as the cattle are dear to them (herders).
“They should realise that if farmers feel bad when their crops are destroyed, it is because the farms are their sources of their livelihood.
“The association at the national level condemns the destruction of farm crops and we have mechanisms of disciplining offenders,” he said.
The secretary-general urged farmers in the state to stop killing the herders’ cattle as well, as it was also their source of livelihood.
“We have identified the cause of the clashes between both sides to include night grazing, use of minors in grazing and influx of herders from other states into Ebonyi, among others.
“The problem will be seriously solved if the provision of the agreement reached by the government, security agencies, herders among others are kept as it seems the committee in charge is not doing its work.
“The provision which states that a farmer should pay for any killed cattle, a herder pay for destroyed farmlands and prosecution of anyone who kills should be observed seriously,” he said.
He noted that though some herders engaged in criminal acts, efforts should be made to identify the criminals engaged in killing, cattle rustling, kidnapping and banditry among other unwholesome acts,” he said.
Gov. Umahi of Ebonyi thanked the national leadership of the Miyetti Allah for inviting its chairmen in the southeast and South South states to the meeting to deliberate on permanent solutions to the problem.
“I will, as the Chairman of the Southeast governor’s forum, present the resolutions of this meeting as a template for adoption by states in the zone and by extension, the country.
“I worked with you assiduously when I chaired the national committee of farmers/ herders clashes and you showed sincerity in identifying the real causes of the problem and proffering lasting solutions,” he said.
The governor noted that herders had been living in Ebonyi for a long time with some of them born in the state, an indication that they were regarded as brothers.
Stakeholders and the Miyetti Allah association leaders in the 13 local government areas of the state took turns to air their complaints and possible solutions to the crisis.