The Ondo State Government and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria on Monday agreed that children being used as herdsmen would henceforth be arrested by Amotekun operatives and their families made to pay a fine to the government.
SaharaReporters also learnt that the meeting agreed that herdsmen should return to the various local government areas where they had been working and meet with the leadership of the Western Nigeria Security Network, also known as Amotekun Corps, to fish out the bad eggs and criminals posing as herders.
A top MACBAN source in an interview with SaharaReporters relayed the details of the meeting between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and MACBAN in Akure on Monday, but argued that there was no mention of herdsmen being banned from forest reserves within seven days.
The MACBAN national official said, “The governor invited the leaders of MACBAN on Monday and they held a meeting between 11am and 1pm. They discussed issues of insecurity and the rest. So, the governor emphasised that they should stop allowing small boys to graze cattle. If this happens, they will arrest the parents and the family will be made to pay some fine.
“They should stop night grazing and movement of cows at night is also prohibited. Then the governor ordered them to stop allowing cows to be coming into towns and government houses and government premises.
“Then they agreed that they should go to their LGAs and meet the leadership of Amotekun to fish out the bad eggs and criminals. That was the thrust of the meeting they held with the government on Monday. If any boy is caught wandering with cows, he should be arrested and a fine will be paid.”
The source said the arrest of underage herders in the state was to commence immediately.
Governor Akeredolu had in a statement released on Monday announced a ban on movement of cattle within cities and highways, as well as night grazing. He also gave herdsmen seven days to vacate the state forest reserves, where he said some criminals masquerading as herders had been carrying out criminal activities.
The statement had 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.
MACBAN in its reaction had said that the agreement it had with the Ondo State Government was to stop night grazing and use of underage boys for grazing cows, saying it was not true that herders had been asked to vacate forest reserves in the state.
The Miyetti Allah National Secretary, Baba Usman, had stated this in an interview with SaharaReporters that the meeting the cattle breeders had with the state government did not include the vacation of forest reserves in the state.