The secretary-general cited as examples, the latest of such in which at least 100 persons were killed in Plateau State and the previous incidents in Benue and other states.
He condoled with families of deceased in the Plateau killings “whether herds or farmers”, distancing the attack from members of his group.
Saleh insisted that the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore is a peaceful organisation, and there is no member of the group who carries arms.
On the Plateau killings, he claimed the crisis was being sponsored by some politicians to divert attention from the corruption offences they were charged with.
While the allegations have not been proven to be true, the secretary-general alleged further that the security agencies “are aware but the question is are they capable of stopping the conflict?”
“We have armed militia that will block highways, kill Fulani people, roast hundreds of cattle in a terrain like Plateau State that is not like a rainforest or where you have trees. These things are purely political like the anti-grazing law in Benue,” he claimed.
Asked about the way forward, Saleh said, “What is needed now is for the security agencies to arrest the perpetrators of this crisis and their sponsors and let us stop the pretence.”
“The agenda to exterminate the Fulani people on the Plateau is not going to work because they are not aliens; they are indigenous in that place,” he insisted.
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has dissociated itself from the purported statement on the recent killings in Plateau State by the Chairman of the group in the north-central region, Danladi Ciroma.
According to the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah, Mr Othman Ngelzarma, who appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, such comments do not reflect the true position of MACBAN.
“The statement made by the zonal chairman should be credited to him,” he said. “That should be his personal opinion because I believe he should be an indigene of Plateau State.”
Mr Ciroma had described the attack on the communities in Plateau as an act of retaliation for the killing of 300 cows belonging to members of the group.
But the national secretary faulted the comments and condemned the attack which left at least 100 dead and several others displaced.
He also commiserated with those who lost their loved ones to the attack, as well as the government and people of Plateau State.
Ngelzarma added, “It is so wicked, it is condemnable. We don’t condone it, we do not like it. It is really unfortunate and we sympathise with the communities in that area.”
Reacting to the allegation that some members of the association go about heavily armed, he noted that such persons should be treated as criminals.
“Whoever is holding a dangerous weapon up to the level of AK-47, we consider that person to be a criminal as far as we are concerned.
“We know these are prohibited arms that should not be held by any other person apart from the security operatives. Apart from that, I don’t think it is allowed for anybody in this country to hold a dangerous weapon as AK-47,” the MACBAN stressed.
The Secretary-General, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Mr Usman Baba-Ngelzerma, has accused the Benue State government of enacting the Anti-Open Grazing law to promote hatred.
Baba-Ngelzerma stated this on Thursday during an appearing on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.
“There is a law in Benue that has not solved a problem. Instead of solving it, it has further aggravated the ember of hatred in Benue State,” he said.
According to him, the essence of establishing laws was to create peace and harmony rather than conflict, but the opposite is the case with the anti-open grazing law.
Baba-Ngelzerma’s comments come amid continued attacks and killings in the north-central state, popularly known as the Food Basket of the Nation.
He believes the core essence of the law has been defeated as farmers and herdsmen have all recorded losses and casualties.
“On the eve of the implementation of the law, the governor said it is a win-win situation. But today, let us reflect and see,” he added.
“Who is a winner out of this law? Nobody is a winner, the farmers are not winners, so also the pastoralists are not winners. Even the government is not winning because people are losing their lives by the day, people are taken out of their comfort zone, kept in Internally Displaced Persons’ camps.”
The MACBAN’s leader, therefore, called on the state government to provide another alternative that would accommodate both parties and prevent further loss of lives and properties in the state.
The Benue State government has sued the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore amid the repeated killings of innocent citizens in the state.
According to the state governor, Samuel Ortom, who revealed this on Monday, the government dragged the group before the State High Court, Markurdi, on the allegations of murder and widespread violence across 14 out of the 23 local councils of the state.
Governor Ortom disclosed this at the Government House while briefing reporters on the new security approach to curb the repeated killings in the state.
He faulted the alleged inaction of the security forces to arrest the group for purportedly threatening violence; an act he claimed resulted in the multiple deaths since 2018.
The state government had in 2017 petitioned the Federal Government, as well as the heads of the police and the Department of State Service.
They called had also called for the arrest of the President of Miyetti Allah, Abdullahi Bodejo, and his secretary, Alhassan Saleh, who were accused of issuing the threats during a press conference in June 2017.
A Warning Issued
However, Mr Saleh has since denied the allegation and distanced the association from the recent killings in the state.
He said they had warned the Benue State government against implementing the anti-open grazing law as it would generate a lot of confusion in the state.
“We told him (Ortom) that look; you can’t go by that way. The reality is that you cannot proscribe pastoralism overnight. It is going to be a process that has to encompass policies and programmes that would take a period of time.
“We have written to the government of Benue State, we have written to all the relevant security agencies, telling them why we are opposed to this law; but what His Excellency Governor Ortom did was to dismiss our organisation, claiming we don’t have members in Benue,” Saleh said during his appearance on Sunrise Daily in January.
The meeting had in attendance, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom and other top government officials in the state.
Groups present at the meeting include representatives of Miyetti Allah Group, representatives of farmers in Benue State, Benue State Livestock guard, Benue Joint Sociocultural Group Mzough U-Tiv, among others.
During the meeting which was held at the Government House in Makurdi, Benue State capital the groups explained their various positions over the killings. The Miyetti Allah group during the meeting denied involvement in the incessant killings while the farmers appealed to President Buhari to take steps to end the killings.
Myetti Allah Denies Involvement In Benue Killings
The Chairman, Miyetti Allah Group in Benue State, Ubbi Haruna, has denied allegations that Miyetti Allah group is responsible for the killings and attacks in Benue State.
Speaking during the meeting with President Buhari he claimed this allegation is ‘totally misleading’.
“The association has always appreciated peaceful and harmonious coexistence between farmers and herdsmen,” he said.
He added that “Going forward, there will be peace in the state. Let bygone be bygone to allow peace and security to prevail.”
Haruna also called on all stakeholders to support the government to achieve peace.
‘Over 160,000 Farmers ‘Displaced’
The representative of Benue farmers, Mr Terlumun Akputu in his address said the peasant farmers are threatened by starvation as a result of the increased attacks.
“More than 160, 000 of peasant farmers are now refugees in their own land because of the herdsman attacks on their communities and farms,” Akputu said.
He asked President Buhari to put in place irrigation and farm input programmes to help the farmers recover from the loss of their farmland, food, and source of livelihood.
The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Association says it had earlier warned the Benue State government against the anti-open grazing law in the state.
Secretary of the group, Mr Saleh Alhassan, who said this on Thursday during his appearance on Sunrise Daily, also distanced the association from the recent killings in the state.
According to him, the group had warned Governor Samuel Ortom against urgently banning open grazing in Benue as it would generate a lot of confusion.
We told him (Ortom) that look, you can’t go by that way,” Alhassan said. “The reality is that you cannot proscribe pastoralism overnight; is going to be a process that has to encompass policies and programmes that would take a period of time.”
“We have written to the government of Benue State, we have written to all the relevant security agencies, telling them why we are opposed to this law. But what His Excellency Governor Ortom did was to dismiss our organisation, claiming we don’t have members in Benue,” he added.
The group’s secretary described the law as ‘apartheid’, saying it was targeted at ousting the members of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore from Benue.
He also alleged that the law was politically motivated, stressing that the governor has no power to make any law banning herders in the Benue valley.
“What we are saying is that when His Excellency Governor Ortom wanted to create this apartheid law to chase out the pastoralists from Benue valley, who did he consult?” Alhassan questioned.
“If you look at the piece of legislation, it is entirely politically motivated. First and foremost, you cannot create laws that are at variance with the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“On the international rules that transcend Benue State’s, Ortom has no right to decree against access to pastoral resources (land and water) in the Benue valley. The river Benue doesn’t belong to the governor,” he noted.
The group further challenged the governor to come out with evidence to back his allegations that they masterminded the recent killings in Benue.
They also maintained that Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore is a ‘peace-loving organisation’ that would never support any form of violence and asked the security agencies to arrest any armed herdsmen.
On how the government can tackle some of their plights, Alhassan said, :We want a national policy that will address the challenges that are facing the pastoralists in Nigeria.
“The Benue case is not an isolated case, we are talking about conflicts. We have to be holistic in addressing these problems that are facing the pastoralists and farmers’ conflicts that are in this country.”
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has insisted that the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore is behind the New Year attacks in the state.
During an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, the governor talked about his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the President’s directive to the Inspector-General of Police, his grouse with Miyetti Allah and the solution to the herdsmen/farmers crisis.
What can you tell us about your meeting with the President and what are the interventions he promised you?
My meeting with Mr President today (Tuesday, Jan 9) was very fine. He did express his sympathy and condolences to me and the people of Benue State again and appreciated the efforts that we’ve been able to make so far to contain this challenge.
He did assure me that he is not leaving any stone unturned until we are able to surmount this challenge and he has directed the IG to relocated to Benue State and to ensure that this does not happen again. He is also gathering other intelligence to see what can be done further to ensure that we eliminate this. He also confirmed that criminals will not be spared and there is no room for anyone that comes to kill in the name of anything whatsoever. Human lives are precious and should be respected. And he is going to do everything to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and sanctioned. I think that is the right way to go.
I repeated my calls for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who are the perpetrators of this. These are known people. These people gave this threat right from the day we signed this (anti-grazing) bill into law – on 22 of May 2017. And when they did a press conference in Abuja in June, I immediately petitioned against them that these people should be arrested to the security agencies. They continued this threat when I had even given a grace period for the commencement of this law on November 1, 2017. They continued with their threat and I further reminded the security agencies that there was the need to arrest these people. Unfortunately, the process, as I am told, is ongoing, but no arrest was made until we saw this unfortunate thing that befell us on the first of January and instead of celebrating, we went into mourning. It is unfortunate, and I think things need to be done because impunity should not be allowed to thrive in Nigeria.
The President has asked the Inspector-General of Police to relocate to Benue. Have you been able to speak with him and has he told you when he is going to resume duties in Benue State?
We spoke, and I am waiting to receive him here in Makurdi this evening. He has convened a stakeholders meeting tomorrow here in Makurdi and I am supporting him. I am going to do everything possible to ensure that his mission as directed by Mr President is successful and I believe that with this directive, there should be a new relieve for the people of Benue. As I talk to you, there over 60,000 refugees. People are running all over the place; some out of fear of the unknown are just running to unknown destinations and I have refugee crisis on my hands at this time because these people have continued to issue threats and they are confronting even the security men that are here. Even today, the soldiers that were deployed in my council area in Guma Local Government Area, they confronted them.
Did you speak to the President specifically about Miyetti Allah?
Of course, that is what I am saying. I have spoken to him that those are the people I know and I have documentary evidence against them.
What makes it difficult for this Miyetti Allah leadership to be arrested if, according to what you have said, they are the alleged perpetrators?
Well, I am told that arresting (people) is a process. So, that is ongoing. That is what I have been told, but there is need to arrest these people because if we allow them to go scot-free, it will not serve this country good. Like I always say, if you allow impunity to thrive, you are asking for anarchy. It is wrong. I am a law-abiding governor and all I have been trying to let my people know is that for development to come to Benue, we must be law abiding. Let the people know that we do things in an orderly manner, we don’t just do things anyhow. When I came in (as governor) I disarmed the youths who were armed. Today, relatively, we were peaceful until this unfortunate incident happened. Benue State was putting itself together. It is difficult to say (what makes the arrest difficult) since I am not a security agent and I am not a professional in that area, but I am told it is a process that will continue. I think that I have done the needful, the people of Benue have done the needful and what is needed is intelligence gathering to security agencies. This we have done.
Are there members of the Miyetti Allah, the alleged perpetrators of this attacks, who are from Benue because at some point, the IGP has been reported to have described this incident as a communal clash?
I want to believe that the IG was misquoted because he can’t say that. He is aware that the police in Benue are already prosecuting some violators of this (anti-grazing) law and even those who were arrested after the 1st of January mayhem on our people… even today, two people who were arrested as a result of these killings were arraigned.
Going forward, what would you say is the lasting solution to this problem?
The lasting solution to the problem is what we have done – ranching; nothing but ranching. Globally, the best practice for cattle rearing and breeding is ranching. All over the world, that is what is obtainable. Yes, we promulgated this (anti-grazing) law and we have started implementation. As I talk to you, over 20 people who violated this law – both the herdsmen and indigenes of this state – are in prison; they have been arraigned by the police. Now, you can see that the herdsmen/farmers clashes are all over the country; in Adamawa, in Kaduna, Plateau, Abia, Ebonyi, all over the place. It is happening. We must adopt modern ways of doing things. The population is not the way it used to be in the 50s when there was open grazing and cattle routes… My worry now is for these militia men to be (going about) killing security agents. It becomes a very disturbing problem if trained security agents who are armed are killed and slaughtered as we saw in Logo Local Government Area. But thank God, the IGP is coming here and I hope that normalcy will be restored.
He said: “In particular the secretary and the president of this association (Miyetti Allah) that came out – they are on tape, they are on the papers – and issued this threat.
“They cannot go scot free, they must be arrested. We still want to repeat again that Federal Government should do this.”
The governor faulted the allegation by some members of the group that some Benue indigenes rustled about 1,000 cows as the reason for which dozens of people were killed in the state.
He, however, called on the Federal Government to order the arrest of Miyetti Allah leadership in a bid to ensure the people of the state get justice.
“I’ve written to the Presidency, I have written to the inspector general of police, I have written to the DG DSS, and all the security apparatus of this country to ensure they effect this arrest; then we will know that Nigeria is doing justice to us in Benue State,” he said.
Following the recent attack on some communities in the state by suspected herdsmen, Governor Ortom has confirmed the death of at least 49 persons to Channels Television.
The latest attack was on Tombu village in Logo Local Government Area where 11 persons were killed on Saturday last week.
The governor who confirmed the number of casualties had commended the heavy presence of security personnel in the state.
He had, however, lamented that more than 40,000 people have been displaced for fear of unprovoked attacks.
The state government consequently declared three days of mourning for those killed in the attacks on communities in Logo and Guma LGAs.
In a statement issued on Monday by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Terver Akase, the government also announced that those who were killed during the attacks would be buried on Thursday, January 11.
Unknown gunmen have attacked Zankan village in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna state, killing one person and injuring five others.
Spokesman for the Kaduna State Police Command, Aliyu Usman, who confirmed the incident to our correspondent, said that the gunmen invaded the community, a predominantly Fulani settlement on Saturday night and opened fire on the residents.
He said that security operatives have been deployed to the area to avert any form of fresh attacks or reprisal.
An indigene of the area and Deputy Chief Imam in Jema’a Emirate Council, Mohammed Kabiru also disclosed that the gunmen attacked the village at about 9PM.
He said that they shot a 13-year-old boy dead, while other injured persons have been rushed to a hospital in nearby Plateau state.
The attack comes barely three days after Fulanis and natives of Southern Kaduna reached an accord to end the killings in the area.
Zankan is a border town between Plateau and Kaduna state.
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) has claimed that its members lost no fewer than 6,000 cows since the Southern Kaduna violence started.
Addressing reporters in Kaduna, Secretary of the association in the state, Musa Gambo, insisted that the Fulani were also victims of the violence, having lost many of their kinsmen and property worth millions of Naira during the attacks.
He accused religious leaders of fueling the recent crisis in Southern Kaduna for their own selfish advantage.
“How can we be involved in the killing of our brothers, whom our great grandparents have lived with and with whom we are living with our children and wives?
“Unfortunately, we have been accused of being the perpetrators of the crisis, and even some are saying that Miyetti Allah will carry out reprisals. At no time did we issue any such irresponsible article to any media.
“As a peace-loving association, which has contributed immensely to the peace and reconciliation efforts not only in Southern Kaduna but also in the entire country, we will never descend so low as to advocate crisis,” Gambo said.
Also, the Jema’a Emirate Council in Kaduna State has said that the Emir of Jema’a, Alhaji Muhammad Isah II, was attacked by some disgruntled youths at Samaru Kataf in Zango Kataf.
The council was reacting to the denial of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) in some media outlets that the Emir was not attacked.
Addressing a press conference in Kaduna, the Deputy Chief Imam of Jema’a Central Mosque, Alhaji Kabir Kassim, alleged that on January 17, 2017, after attending a security meeting in Kaduna, the Emir’s convoy was attacked by some armed youths and that three vehicles were destroyed.
Policemen attached to the ‘Operation Yaki’ security outfit in Kaduna have recovered over 500 cows and sheep that were stolen from herdsmen in Jere, Kagarko Local Government Area of the state while suspected rustlers were also arrested.
At the handing over of the recovered animals to their owners, the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Internal Security, Mr Yakubu Yusuf, said that the state government was not leaving any stone unturned in its effort to flush cattle rustlers and other criminal elements out of the state.
Cattle rustling has become an emerging security challenge that has continued to threaten human security and economic activities in the rural pastoralists’ communities and commercial farms in Kaduna state, and some other parts of Northern Nigeria.
The Governor’s Security Adviser explained that the recovery was made possible through intelligence information from members of the public.
He applauded the contribution of security operatives for their role in ensuring that activities of rustlers and other criminals are reduced to the barest minimum across the state.
In their response after taking delivery of the recovered animals, members of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, commended the security agencies and Kaduna State government for their effort in flushing rustlers out of the state.
Attacks on pastoralists have become a reoccurring issue in Kaduna State, in most cases, the entire villages and herders’ camps are displaced.
The emergence of the joint task force operation against cattle rustling and armed banditry in the state, is expected to bring the crimes to the barest minimum.
Security operatives attached to the ‘Operation Yaki’ security outfit in Kaduna State, have recovered over 300 cows and other animals stolen by rustlers in various parts of the state.
During the handover of the recovered animals to their owners, a spokesman for the Governor, Colonel Yusuf Yakubu, told reporters that the animals were stolen from herdsmen and later recovered from the rustlers at two villages in Kachia Local Government Area of the state where they were hidden.
Colonel Yakubu explained that the recovery was made possible through intelligence information from members of the public.
He says the operation is part of efforts by the state government to curtail armed banditry, insurgency and other related crimes in the state.
According to him, the recovered animals were being handed over to their owners after thorough scrutiny.
He applauded the contribution of security operatives in ensuring that activities of rustlers and other criminals were reduced to the barest minimum across the state.
He also added that security agents in the state had so far recovered over 17, 000 cows since the government began efforts to rid the state of cattle rustlers over a year ago.
The outfit had set up collation centres for the recovered animals in Birnin Gwari, Zaria, Kachia and Jere.
Colonel Yakubu said: “Recently, there were two operations conducted by our operatives. The first operation was conducted in October 2016, which recovered 95 animals. Then the second and third operations were conducted on the 28 and 29 of the same month where we recovered a total of 312 cows.
“This operation was conducted by our Sector one of Operation Yaki which comprises Nigerian Army, Police and the Navy that are in Kachia.
“The information that we got from people led to the successful operation. We most especially commend the leadership of Miyetti Allah in Kaduna state, they are doing a good job, they led us into this operation and we made these recovery”.
The North West Chairman of Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Ahmadu Sulaiman, commended the security agencies and Kaduna State government for their commitment to rid the state of cattle rustlers.