The Secretary-General of the group, Saleh Al-Hassan, said this during an interview on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Monday.
A large section of Nigerians, including the National Assembly and governors, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs for failing to protect the lives of Nigerians.
However, Al-Hassan said those calling for the sacking of the service chiefs “are corrupt politicians.”
He said, “We have documented 411 innocent pastoralists killed just in southern Kaduna for nothing. We have documented all the crises but because we want peace and want to promote the culture of peace and forgiveness hoping that our neighbours will continue to allow us to do our business.
“But the issue of arms and light weapons is a security one. I believe they (security agencies) are on top of it. With the arrests they are making, we must acknowledge the efforts security agencies have put in trying to contain criminality in this country.
“That is why people calling for the removal of service chiefs are either the corrupt politicians or the ones working for them. We should not fall for that gambit.”
Says foreign herdsmen can graze in Nigeria
Al-Hassan also rejected suggestions that herdsmen from other countries should be prevented from grazing their cattle in Nigeria.
He said the ECOWAS “free trade protocol guarantees free movement,” adding that herdsmen do not recognise international boundaries which he described as “colonial creations.”
Al-Hassan added, “You cannot just opt out of a protocol that is integrating the African continent. The pastoralist movement is not for picnics. They go there to access land resources. Also, these boundaries that you have are colonial boundaries.
“Some of them (boundaries) don’t mean anything to the herders. So, what we need to do is to domesticate the ECOWAS protocol, begin to enforce it and then we create grazing reserves for trans-human pastoralists.”
He said the solution remains ranching which must be partly funded by the government and supported by all Nigerians.
Al-Hassan lamented that every attempt by the Buhari government to establish ranches had been rejected by selfish politicians.
He said, “Policies aimed at solving these problems are strongly resisted. Attempts were made to put up a commission for grazing reserves to see how it can be done but it was shut down at the National Assembly. The minister of agriculture has been trying all his efforts to see that solutions are brought to the table but people read political motive to it and killed the policies.
“Today, we have a national livestock development plan that is well articulated but the same people saying we should ranch our cows are now saying they will not accept ranches so what are we talking about? So, we must understand the socio-political undercurrents.”
He lambasted Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State for initiating the anti-grazing law, adding that most of the arrests by security agencies showed it was Ortom’s men that were carrying out the killings.
Corrupt politicians behind calls for service chiefs sacking – Miyetti Allah
Speaking at another event in Abuja, Alhassan said the security agencies must identify the perpetrators and sponsors of the killings in Plateau State, noting that corrupt politicians were behind the massacre.
At a colloquium organised by the Citizens Communication and Advocacy Centre, the Secretary-General of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore said that the National Assembly was laden with corruption and the legislators had not taken sufficient steps to address the farmers-herders’ crises.
The topic of the colloquium was, “Understanding democracy as instrument of development, integration and national cohesion.”
Alhassan said the association did not believe in the call for the sacking of the service chiefs, noting that the association usually shared “critical intelligence” with the agencies.
He said, “The spate of insecurity in this country is worrisome to anybody that loves this country and I think our security agencies should be up and doing. They should be able to identify the perpetrators and their sponsors and then ensure that justice is meted out to them. We must watch closely our politicians, their utterances and their body language because some of them are the ones promoting violence we are having in this country.
“We are not responsible for the killings in Plateau State. There are crises between farmers and herders all over the country, particularly in the North-Central geopolitical zone. We must recognise that it is a crisis that borders on land resources and we are calling on the government to put mechanisms in place for sustainable management of the land resources.
“But first, our security agencies must be supported to identify the perpetrators and the promoters of this violence. We must closely monitor some of these evangelicals that preach hatred in churches and mosques and desperate politicians that are facing corruption charges. We must be able to get all of them and watch them closely so that they don’t set this country ablaze. They are the drivers of the conflict.
Alhassan, while faulting calls for the sacking of the nation’s security chiefs, argued that corrupt politicians were behind the campaign.
He said, “Most of these politicians own armed thugs and militias across the state. The government should also find those behind the importation of large arms into the country. Who are the people importing these arms?
“We need to overhaul the security architecture of the country but the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police are doing their best. We should not listen to what desperate politicians are saying. It is the corrupt political elite who are creating crises in this country.
There are attempts by our group to assist the security agencies. We have been partnering the security agencies in terms of giving them critical intelligence where we suspect there are cattle rustlers and criminals.
“The calls for the removal of the service chiefs are empty calls. Desperate politicians and politicians facing criminal charges are the ones making that call.”