NIGERIA’S attorney-general Abubakar Malami has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to establish a special agency dedicated to the animal husbandry industry and monitor the activities of Fulani cattle herdsmen.
Over recent years, the Fulani herdsmen problem has created tension across Nigeria as their cattle have been known to destroy farms and crops and when farmers complain, the herdsmen has responded violently, attacking them with AK47 assault rifles. In addition, Fulani herdsmen are renown for carrying out very violent crimes across Nigeria, including kidnapping, armed robbery, rape and banditry.
Within the last two weeks, the matter has come to a head in southwest Nigeria after herdsmen killed diasporan farmer Dr Fatai Aborode in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State. His death lead to Yoruba activist Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Igboho issuing a seven quit notice to the herdsmen to leave the area, after which they were forcefully evicted.
Following the success of the Ibarapa eviction, numerous communities across the southwest have solicited the help of Mr Adeyemo in removing the herdsmen within their midst. This has led to increased clashes and there is now a consensus that all livestock should be confined to dedicated ranches with the federal government outlawing open grazing.
With President Buhari under attack for doing nothing about the crisis, Mr Malami said the crisis between the herders and farmers must be tackled squarely as it was becoming a pressing issue. Speaking as the special guest during the Peace, Unity and Security Lecture Series in Abuja yesterday, Mr Malami said a federal government agency that will regulate the activities of herdsmen is badly needed.
Mr Malami added: “Nigeria is predominately agricultural in nature and by geography. To that extent, there is constant mobility of herders across the different belts of Nigeria. so it is perhaps time to consider the setting-up of a commission for pastoralism regulated by law.
“This might provide recipes for resolving protracted farmer-herder conflicts. The commission may even engage in or facilitate in-depth analytical studies with a view to providing lasting solutions for the benefit of people and the country.”
He said the Buhari government is committed to supporting initiatives and programmes that would help resolve the lingering crises between farmers and herdsmen in the country. In addition, Mr Malami pointed out that the better approach towards putting an end to the crisis over the short, medium and long terms is to allow the stakeholders to play a part in coming up with solutions at the conception, implementation and monitoring faces.
Mr Malami also recommended the creation of regulated grazing reserves to replace the Burtali or Hurumi pastoral system. Earlier this week, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria called on President Buhari to either suspend or query Mr Malami over his refusal to prosecute arrested criminal Fulani herdsmen across the country.