The Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Socio-cultural Association has challenged Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom that he has no right to chase its members from the state.
This followed the ripples over the state’s anti-grazing law.
Its National President Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo, said at the weekend in Abuja that the pastoralists had the same right as indigenes.
Bodejo denied the governor’s allegation that he is planning to cause unrest.
He said the association had no intention to cause chaos over the anti-open grazing law.
Bodejo said: “Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore is not a splinter of any group. This is a socio-cultural organisation and one can only be a Fulani man to be a member, unlike other associations related to cattle rearing and sale, which can accommodate anyone, once they are in cattle rearing or sale.
“Governor Samuel Ortom asking pastoralists to leave Benue State cannot happen. We have a mandate to speak on behalf of our members and their right as Nigerians. How can a Nigerian ask other Nigerians to leave a place they are constitutionally entitled to be?”
He decried the governor’s claim that the state lost N95 billion between 2012 and 2016.
Describing the claim as untrue, Bodejo noted that the pastoralists have always been at the receiving end of conflicts, especially with farmers.
On the call for his arrest and the National Secretary’s, Saleh Alhassan, he accused Ortom of using threat and blackmail, knowing he committed an illegality by trying to deny pastoralists their means of livelihood.
“We are law-abiding and have always been championing peace and resolution of conflicts between pastoralists and farmers. The records are there. That was why we went to court,” Bodejo said.
He queried the governor’s claim that the law is meant to protect farmers and herdsmen, stressing that there is no provision for the so-called ranches, except the intent to establish six detention centres, where seized or ‘arrested’ cattle will be kept and auctioned after seven days, thus legitimising cattle rustling.
“The governor was also not specific on the fines for cattle rustling, unlike the specific penalties for pastoralists, who can be accused of open grazing,” he added.
Bodejo, the Lamido Fulbe Nigeria, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to address the situation by calling Ortom to order.
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