A survey conducted by Nigeria’s leading online news platform, TODAYSECHO.COM has shown that 94% of Nigerians want Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association to be proscribed a terrorist group.
The survey which was conducted online within an 8-week period was designed to gauge the perception of Nigerians about the group which is the umbrella association of cattle breeders in Northern Nigeria.
Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria is a full fledge socio-economic group which has championed the course of cattle herders for several decades and has only come under fire because of the torrent of accusations that have followed herders of the Fulani ethnic stock who have been accused of murder, rape, abductions and other forms of heinous crimes in the last 10 years.
Magnitude of the problem
One of the challenges that has characterised the herders-farmers conflict is that it has become more difficult to differentiate between crimes committed by herdsmen and those committed by common criminals.
In January 2017, some 75 people were buried in Benue state, located in the North Central part of Nigeria. They were alleged to have been killed by herders. In response, prominent members of the herders society said the attacks were in response to an anti-grazing law put in place by the state government to regulate open grazing. But this is a problem that has been brewing for over a decade.
How bad is it?
Following the successful completion of the 2015 general election, news filtered in that Olu Falae, a prominent Nigerian former minister of Yoruba extraction had been kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen, the investigations that followed led to the capture of three young men who were alleged to have carried out the crime. They were Fulani.
There have been several incidences of rape, murder, and other crimes committed by alleged herders who are not Nigerians. These crimes have been exacerbated by the influx of herdsmen who have remained in the southern part of the country because of the desertification of the northern parts of Nigeria.
Commenting on the developments that have characterised the hostilities recorded in recent times, Ibrahim Galma, the Assistant Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Benue state chapter said that “agricultural activities have taken over grazing areas around the country. In the time past, we had areas that were carved out for herders as razing routes but all that have been taken over by residential houses or converted to farmland…. Herdsmen sometimes unknowingly stray into farmlands and it becomes source of crisis.”
But some of the incidences as portrayed by the media show a semblance of a problem which is deliberately inflicted on innocent Nigerians, like when it is reported that Fulani herders accost and rape women who are working in their farms in remote locations. Such news stories have generated anger and may be responsible for the response to the poll which was conducted by TODAYSECHO.COM.