Open grazing deadline: Herdsmen dare Southern governors

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Herdsmen under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore are daring southern state governors in the country over the deadline prohibiting open grazing in member states.

The state helmsman while meeting in Delta State in May banned open grazing they claimed was responsible for food insecurity and deadly clashes between farmers and herders in the Southern part of the country.

The 17 state governors in another meeting in Lagos on July set September 1 as deadline for the promulgation of laws against open grazing in their respective domains despite opposition from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government that has opted for revival of grazing routes which has equally been rejected.

About six states, including Akwa Ibom, Osun, Cross River, Anambra, Imo and Enugu, TODAY POLITICS gathered, are yet to met the deadline.

While Enugu and Akwa Ibom state lawmakers are yet to conclude work on the bills, Cross River was yet to enact it own law while Anambra and Imo seem uninterested with Osun’s own awaiting the governor’s assent.

In an interview with Leadership Newspapers, the national secretary of the Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore, Saleh Alhassan, described the legislation as satanic, vowing that his group will not adhere to it.

“We don’t recognise anti-grazing law. Nobody can do anti-grazing policy in Nigeria where we are constitutionally guaranteed the right of movement and occupation,” Alhassan proclaimed. “That kind of policy is Satanic. Anything of Satan cannot prevail over light. They will fail.”

The Miyetti Allah official also declared support for the revival of grazing routes which has been rejected in the Southern part of the nation.

“I think that (open grazing) has been overtaken by events where the federal government is reviving the grazing reserves and grazing routes,” he said. “Ranches are coming up across the states. Any policy that will heat up the polity, I don’t think is desirable for the country now.

“I think they are just beating a dead horse. After all, how many grazing reserves do we have in Southern Nigeria. Ninety percent of the cows we have in Southern Nigeria are meant for business. They are not there for grazing. The cattle are taken there for two or three weeks before they take them to the market. We don’t even understand what they mean by anti-open grazing,” he added.

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While mocking secessionist leaders whom the federal government has moved against, the herders said the South should forget about power shift in the next presidential election in 2023.

“The power that they are looking for, they will not get. We have reported them to almighty Allah to create confusion in the camp of the enemy. And confusion will be their lot. Where is Sunday Igboho? Where is Nnamdi Kanu today? They are all in jail. The God of the pastoralists is protecting them like the God of Elijah that speaks with fire; he has fired all of them.

“They can’t win. They are losers. It is a negative policy. We are supporting the federal government now to revive the grazing reserves, to revive the grazing routes, do ranches, settle the herders over time. Is that what they don’t want? Then they are the real bandits.”

Describing the governors as bandits, Alhassan cited Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State as case study, saying he would be arrested immediately after he leaves office.

“If you are looking for a real bandit, it is Governor Ortom. He is the real bandit. And he thinks he can fight the Fulani ethnic nationality. He does not know that we are not only in Nigeria. We are an African tribe.

“We are in charge of the United Nations. The pioneer secretary of the African Union is a Fulani herder. What is Ortom talking about? They better play politics that can unite this country. All these things they are saying, they can’t do anything as far as Nigeria is concerned.

“These people know what they are doing. They are just there to steal money, especially Governor Ortom. He is there to steal the money of Benue State. And we are waiting for him. Immediately he leaves power, if EFCC does not arrest him, our vigilante will arrest him and hand him over to the Nigeria Police to be prosecuted like a common criminal. It’s just a matter of time. He will certainly join Dariye and co because he has eaten security votes in billions and he has masterminded the killing of innocent people in Benue State and has lied to the entire world.”

An anonymous source at the Southern Governors’ Forum said the pastoralists should be ignored as responding to them will be belittling.

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“For now, what are you expecting us to react to? No reaction at all. No governor would like to react to such,” the source said. “Let them wait till September 1 whether we are going to enforce it or not. For now, flexing muscles with them or reacting to their threat now will belittle our position as governors of our respective states.

“We don’t need to exchange words with them now. When it is September 1, we will now know who is in charge of our respective states.”