Prominent Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has called for the establishment of the Ministry of Nomadic Affairs to address the grievances of bandits and herders terrorizing the country.
Gumi made the call on at the Pastoralists and Fulbe Security Conference, held on Wednesday in Abuja.
The event themed ‘Exploring the contemporary security challenges facing pastoralists and Fulbe in Nigeria’ was jointly organised by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and northern consensus movement (NCM).
The cleric, in a chat with newsmen, said that the Fulani herders and other aggrieved groups should be accorded same treatment given to the Niger Delta militants.
“Government should focus more attention on these people because they always say that they are aggrieved. What I expect from the government is nothing less than what it did, when the Niger Delta youth were vandalizing the economy.
“These people are also disturbing the Nigerian agriculture which is the backbone of national economy.
“I think the government needs to be more proactive. They need attention. The least they need is the ministry of nomadic affairs that will look into their affairs”, he said.
However, the national president of MACBAN, Husseini Bosso, said it was no longer news that kidnappings and banditry had become the order of the day in many communities in the country, saying contrary to speculations that pastoralists were behind such crimes, herders were also victims.
“What is baffling is that crimes perpetuated against pastoralists have no traction in the media. Our members have been the highest victims of criminality..
“MACBAN Chairmen in Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa States and five other local government chairmen including Gwagwalada Area Council were all recently abducted and killed. This buttress the fact that we are not spared from the atrocities of the kidnappings and banditry in our communities”, he said.
He said that from 2015 to date, many pastoralists were murdered, over two million displaced and impoverished, while over four million livestock were either rustled, killed or outrightly confiscated by state governments.
While condemning alleged maltreatment of pastoralists by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN) , Bosso said that this barbaric display of inhumanity must stop.
He expressed concern that no compensation or resettlement had been given to herders who lost cattle to rustlers or other non state actors.
“Yet no compensation, no resettlement unlike other Nigerians who suffered similar fate. For a people with no known skills or trade, this is real danger in the making. Recently, it as become like a competition to enact Anti-Open grazing laws without recourse to the fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution”, he said.
He expressed the hope that the gathering would proffer solution to the security challenges and predicament of pastoral community in the country.
“We hope measures will be taken to implement the recommendations of stakeholders and experts that will emerge from this conference”, he said
President of NCM, Awwal Aliyu in his remarks, said there was the need for holistic approach to the challenges facing pastoralists and Fulbe communities in the country.
Aliyu called for integration of pastoralists into the society, stressing that they had been marginalized for too long. He, therefore, call for practical solution to the challenges of pastoralists.