The Secretary-General of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Mr Othman Ngelzarma has absolved his association of the Benue killings saying herdsmen are peaceful people and not killers.
Ngelzarma, who said this on Tuesday when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Breakfast Programme Sunrise Daily regretted the unfortunate killings carried out by gunmen in various part of the country and called for an end to the ‘senseless killings.”
“We call them killers, don’t call them the herdsmen. We have our share of criminals too. So all these senseless killings must stop, either from the pastoralists or from the communities,” he said.
Explaining why herdsmen are peaceful people, Ngelzarma said the herders have been in the country for several years back, going about their affairs peacefully with no record of attacks.
“Look at the herdsmen that we are dealing with. 10, 20, 30 years back, these were the people we were dealing with peacefully. Why can’t we ask ourselves, what is happening now?”
Miyetti Allah leader citing cases of similar killings in Zamfara, Katsina, Taraba, Plateau, Cross River, Enugu and Benue states claimed that the killings had a political undertone and not religion. He also lamented that herdsmen are also victims of attacks and have lost members and cows to violent attacks.
“In some places, they were tapped as a civic crisis. In some other places, they were seen as a religious crisis. It is far from religion. It is happening in Zamfara, it has happened in Katsina, it is happening in Benue, it took place in Plateau, it is taking place in Taraba now.
“We had a situation in Cross River on the Christmas Eve (when) our members lost 200 to 300 cows in between Cross River and Akwa-Ibom and we are thankful to the governor of Akwa-Ibom. We had another situation in Enugu, so it is all over the place.
“The herdsmen who are seen as peaceful people before this time, today because of the negative profiling and political undertone that is attached to the crisis, everybody is seeing the herdsman as a criminal,” he said.
Ngelzarma said herdsmen have also fallen victims of attacks. According to him, over two million cattle have been killed in attacks, so far. He also said he advised Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State when he signed the anti-grazing law of the dangers involved in its implementation.
Governor Ortom had earlier on Sunday called for the arrest of the national leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.
He claimed that the Secretary and the President of the association must be arrested because of a public statement they made, issuing a threat.
“They are on tape, they are on the papers – and issued this threat. They cannot go scot free, they must be arrested. We still want to repeat again that Federal Government should do this,” he said.