The umbrella body of cattle herders in Nigeria, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has given the Benue State government conditions for stopping the killing and clashes with farmers in the state.
The cattle breeders said the state Government must revisit and modify the anti-grazing bill for peace to return to communities in the state.
Speaking with Punch on Monday, the Secretary-General of the association, Usman Ngelzerma said the approach taken by the government was unacceptable.
Ngelzerma said, “I like the Benue State governor. He is a peace-loving person but is working on wrong advice. The approach he took is wrong. You cannot change the way of life of a people like the way you turn off a light switch.
“We don’t wish for the crisis to continue but let us give it (the law ) another look. We don’t like the killings; we will never condone the killing of people. Give the farmers their rights but consider the pastoralists too.”
He accused the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, which supported the then President Goodluck Jonathan in the build-up to the 2015 election, as being at loggerheads with the Benue State Government.
Ngelzerma said that the fighting between the herdsmen and the livestock guards led to the January 1 killings in five communities in the Guma and Logo Local Government Areas of the state in which over 20 persons were murdered.
He added, “The livestock guards have constituted themselves to the police and the court at the same time. They impose penalties on herdsmen, fine them huge sums of money before releasing them. That was the situation before this crisis erupted.
“I was told that shortly before this crisis, the guards went to make some arrests in a particular community and they met stiff resistance from the Fulani because they were already tired of the persistent harassment from the guards, not the police or the DSS, army or constituted authority.
“This was what led to the violence and unnecessary deaths that followed which we do not condone.”
The breeder further called on the National Assembly to quickly pass the Grazing Reserve Bill into law.