Herdsmen under the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), has said they will not relocate to Northern Nigeria from the Southern part of the country. The herders also vowed to remain where ever they are nationwide and defend themselves if attacked.
This is in reaction to the call for them to relocate back to their respective region by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF).
Advising it members not to relocate, Saleh Alhassan, the National Secretary of the group said state governors from the southern part of the country will be held responsible for whatever that befalls the pastoralists.
“We are Nigerians and we have a history. Anybody that thinks he can wake up and take on the Fulani pastoralist is making a grievous mistake; we are well prepared to defend our fundamental human rights of movement in this country,” Mr Alhassan was quoted as saying in an interview with Punch Newspaper.
“They (herdsmen) are Nigerians, so they are entitled to stay where they are. They should remain where they are and defend themselves against ethnic militia and assert their citizenship in this country.
“The only thing we would say is that we will hold all the governors of those states responsible for their safety and security, but if any ethnic militia, by any name, attacks our members, they should defend themselves in a manner that nobody would try such again.
“We have been saying it that people behind insecurity are not herders; bandits are behind these killings, and if the government is saying foreigners have infiltrated the herders, have they been arrested and what is their nationality? Anybody that is trying to destabilise this country should be dealt with.
“We are Nigerians and we are not going anywhere. Our attachment to the land is opportunistic; we don’t farm the land. So, if anybody is thinking that because he has cultivated the land in a particular place for long and he has rights there more than us, then we would ask where is the grazing area that the colonial masters created for us?
“Politicians can play their politics but they should leave our people out of it because it is the desperate politicians that are causing this confusion and they are looking for anything to hang on to, but we are watching them critically.
“If you threaten the herders, they react; they cannot be used for any political game because we have our way of defending ourselves. We hate injustice and we fight it. Anybody that thinks we can be squeezed is making a mistake.” the Miyetti Allah helmsman added.