The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria has said that the agreement it had with the Ondo State Government was to stop night grazing and use of underage boys to graze cattle, adding that it could not be true that herders had been asked to vacate forest reserves in the state.
The Miyetti Allah National Secretary, Baba Usman, stated this in an interview with SaharaReporters on Monday in reaction to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s statement that Fulani herdsmen had seven days to vacate forest reserves in the state.
Usman noted that the meeting the cattle breeders had with the state government did not include the vacation of forest reserves in the state.
He said, “I just spoke with my Ondo branch chairman. The governor of Ondo State emphasised on stopping night grazing and not allowing minors to graze cows. These were small boys and that was the agreement we had with the governor during our last visit to Ondo State sometime last year.
“We jointly agreed to stop allowing minors to graze cows. And we jointly stopped night grazing. But that was what was emphasised by the governor. So, it is not true that any Fulani man was asked to leave Ondo State.
“Nothing like forest reserves; the chairman told me that the governor asked them to stop grazing around towns and schools; they should go to the forests and graze. They should not allow small boys to graze because that is what is causing problems. So, it is not true that he asked Fulani men to leave Ondo State. It is not true.”
Governor Akeredolu on Monday reportedly ordered Fulani herdsmen to vacate all forest reserves in the state within seven days.
Akeredolu in a statement released on Monday had also banned the movement of cattle within cities and highways, as well as night grazing.
The statement read, “We have taken major steps at addressing the root cause of kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases in Ondo State.
“These unfortunate incidents are traceable to the activities of some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen. These felons have turned our forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransoms and carrying out other criminal activities.
“As the Chief Law and Security Officer of the State, it is my constitutional obligation to do everything lawful to protect the lives and property of all residents of the state. In light of the foregoing, the following orders are hereby issued:
“All Forest Reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next seven days with effect from today, Monday 18th, January, 2021. Night grazing is banned with immediate effect because most farm destruction takes place at night.
“Movement of cattle within cities and highways is prohibited. Underage grazing of cattle is outlawed.
“In its usual magnanimity, our administration will give a grace period of seven days for those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities. Our resolution to guarantee safety of lives and property within the state shall remain utmost as security agencies have been directed to enforce the ban.”
Akeredolu’s directive was informed by the killings and kidnappings happening in the state, which have largely been blamed on Fulani herdsmen.