By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, has offered to end all hostilities with Benue farmers and live in peace as brothers.
They also proposed the establishment of a joint multi ethnic team to monitor and patrol the borders areas of Benue and Nasarawa states to checkmate the activities of criminal elements amongst them.
This was made known by the Nasarawa state chairman of MACBAN, Alhaji Mohammed Useni at the recent joint peace meeting put together by the governors of Benue and Nasarawa states in Yelewata, Guma Local Government Area of Benue state to address the herdsmen crisis in the border areas of the two states.
Alhaji Useni who blamed the incessant crisis on criminal elements commended the two governors for the peace initiative to end the cross border conflicts.
While acknowledging that 85 percent of the cattle arrested in Benue state for violating the grazing law of the state were from Nasarawa state the MACBAN leader said the cattle were not owned solely by the herders but by Nigerians promising that his members would stand for peace and nothing more.
According to him, “There are some issues around the border areas of both states which are supposed to be corrected. We want it to be directed that is why we are here. We thank the Benue and Nasarawa state Governors for the peace initiative.
“We the members of MACBAN will assist to see that there is peace. Any good leader will not like problem or crisis. We are supporting the governors so that they will bring developments to our people.
“We urge them to look for a way so that we solve this problem in the border areas. I am going to bring a solution and by the grace of God we will have peace in the border areas of Nasarawa and Benue states.
“We know that there were a lot of killings last week and upper week especially in the borders communities. We are accusing the criminal elements for being responsible for this.
“We do not want Fulani to fight with Tiv people again. We do not want it and we are not praying for it.
“My suggestions and solutions are that we want a joint monitoring peace committee of all the ethnic groups in the border areas to checkmate the criminal elements. If we are supported, we are going to set up those committees most especially in Awe, Keana, Guma, Doma and part of Obi Local Government Areas, LGA.
“If the governments of Benue and Nasarawa states can support us, the people in the communities know the criminals among them. They will identify, arrest and hand them over to the appropriate authorizes for prosecution.
“I urge us to ensure that we have peace. Presently the Fulani do not want any problem with the Tiv communities. We are brothers.
Earlier Governor Abdullahi Sule had warned herders to respect the Benue extant law prohibiting open grazing in the state.
He said “I have asked herders to respect the Benue law which prohibits open grazing. We do not have such law in Nasarawa state so they can do open grazing in Nasarawa but if you must go to Benue then ranch you cattle as prescribed by their law.”
On his part, Governor Ortom who maintained that the Benue grazing law was not targeted at any ethnic group informed the gathering that even a Tiv house wife in the state was facing prosecution for allowing her livestock destroy the farms of others.
“So it not about any ethnic group, we are willing to live with the Fulani, Hausa, Ibo any ethnic group who want to live and do livestock business as far as you respect the law of our land on livestock farming which prescribes ranching.
“As long as they do that we have no problems. But we will not accept a situation where they come here to destroy our farms, kill our people, maim them and rape our women. That is the position of the generality of Benue people,” the Governor said.