Following a threat by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) in reaction to the inauguration of grazing marshals by the Ekiti State government, the state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has put the people of the state on red alert and alleged that the Federal Government was giving “tacit support” to the cattle breeders.
Governor Fayose was reacting to a threat issued by MACBAN in a statement on Saturday, in which the group called for the stoppage of the grazing marshals and called for an apology from Governor Fayose for the activities of the marshals.
MACBAN had also said it the statement, signed by Baba Othman Ngelzarma, that the Federal Government should intervene “before this macabre incident develops into unquenchable inferno involving our members and Ekiti State government.”
Fayose, who addressed newsmen in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday, claimed that the lack of response to the alleged threat by MACBAN against the people of the state meant that the cattle breeders had “tacit support of the Federal Government.”
Fayose decried the threat and said it was an open declaration of war against Ekiti people and that should anything happen at the border communities in the state, the Federal Government should be held responsible.
He put the people of the state, especially those in the border communities, on red alert in the event of attacks by herdsmen.
Fayose said: “From the words and antecedents of the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, it is clear that they have assurance beyond their personal minds from the Federal Government to kill Nigerians in place of their cows. If not, by now, the man who signed that press statement, threatening the entire people of Ekiti State ought to have been arrested and questioned.
“Therefore, in view of the above, we wish to tell Nigerians and the entire world that in the event of any invasion of Ekiti State by killer herdsmen, the Federal Government should be held responsible.
“The herdsmen and those urging them on should also be informed that any attack on one Ekiti person is an attack on all Ekitis and we shall not sit back and allow our people to be killed under the guise of cattle rearing.
“In the event of Federal Government’s security agencies’ refusal to secure the lives and properties of Ekiti people, the people will have no option than to defend themselves. Our forefathers did same in the famous Kiriji War and we won’t mind doing the same now!
“I am therefore using this opportunity to put Ekiti people, especially residents of border towns in the State on red alert. Ekiti people must be prepared to defend their land against these Philistines whose attributes and characters are extremism, violence, bloodshed and destruction.”
Fayose said it was lamentable that four days “after this threat was issued against the government and people of Ekiti State by the Miyetti Allah, the Federal Government is yet to act in any manner that will disabuse the minds of Ekiti people, who believed that the Federal Government is in support of the threat.”
According to him, “the silence of the Federal Government has no doubt further confirmed the insinuation that there is a plot to give tacit support to the herdsmen to invade some border towns and villages in Ekiti State and cause chaos in the state so as to justify the evil agenda of declaration of a state of emergency on the state.”
The governor said, “Nigerians should be reminded that in May, this year, Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria said openly that the reason for the killing of over 1,000 people in Benue State was the killing of over 800 cattle by Tiv youths,” adding “in other words, Miyetti Allah boldly told Nigerians that its members (herdsmen) killed over 1,000 Agatu people of Benue State because their cows were killed!”
According to him, “Up till today, no one has been arrested for the massacre in Agatu in Benue State and now, Ekiti State and its people are being threatened by this same Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, and the Federal Government has pretended as if nothing is wrong.”
The Ekiti governor maintained that “For the avoidance of doubt, the Prohibition of Cattle and other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti State Bill, 2016 that was signed into law on August 29, 2016 remains in force.”
While chiding the cattle breeders, Fayose said “the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria should rather tell its members to comply with this law by seeking from the government designated land for grazing ranch, which the government is always willing to give.
“It is strange that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria kept silent when its members killed two people and injured several others in Oke Ako in Ekiti State; so strange that the same Miyetti Allah that defended the murder of over 1,000 Agatu people of Benue State and kept silent when herdsmen killed over 100 people killed in Enugu State and a traditional ruler was killed in Delta State suddenly found its voice when Ekiti State government decided to curb the murderous activities of its men.
“Why didn’t Miyetti Allah that is now calling on President Mohammadu Buhari to warn me, the custodian of the mandate of Ekiti people, warn its members when they were killing Nigerians and destroying farmlands? Are their cows more important than human lives?”
He reiterated that Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria should know that cattle farmers are not different from other farmers. If they want to rear cows in Ekiti, they should do so in accordance with the laws of the state. After all, law prohibiting sale and consumption of alcohol was made in Kano State and the law is being enforced while Sharia Law made in some states in the North is also being enforced.”
The Miyetti Allah had issued a statement on Saturday in which it said five cows of its members in Ekiti were killed and warned that the activities of the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (EGEM) could cause crisis in the state.
However, Fayose announced that the cattle arrested by the marshals were in the custody of the state’s Ministry of Agriculture, and explained that the cows would be released when the owners had paid the necessary compensation for the destruction visited on the farms of other citizens of the state.