Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, yesterday exploded in anger in reaction to the threat of reprisal attack by the Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), an umbrella body of herdsmen who alleged that some of their cattle were killed recently.
While reacting to the governor’s inauguration of the Ekiti Grazing Law Enforcement Marshals, EGEM, recently, Miyetti Allah, had said in a statement on Saturday that the Federal Government must intervene in the inauguration of the marshals, which the herdsmen alleged had shot five of their cows, warning that: “before this incident develops into unquenchable inferno involving our members and Ekiti State government.”
In the statement signed by its spokesman, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, the group said: “Fayose unleashed the marshals against our members whose herds of cattle had gone to a stream at Agon bridge on Federal Polytechnic Road between the time of 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to quench their thirst on Friday, October 21,” claiming that “the vigilance group shot five cows and carted away the meat, but the herdsman was able to flee with the rest of his cattle.”
But Fayose dismissed Miyetti Allah’s claims as untrue and disclosed that the said five cows are alive and in custody of the state government.
Furious at the herdsmen’s threat, governor Fayose asked if the lives of cattle is more important than that of human beings, asking why did the group didn’t write the president when their colleagues were killing hundreds in Benue and Plateau states respectively.
“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?
“To us in Ekiti, lives of 5,000 cows cannot be equated with those of human beings that are being killed daily by herdsmen across the country. 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.”
Fayose blamed the Federal Government on its silence on the development, saying: “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.
“The silence of the federal government has no doubt further confirmed the insinuation that there is 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 who recalled the herdsmen’s killing of hundreds in some parts of the country in the name of same reprisal attack, further said: “Nigerians should be reminded that in May, this year, Myetti AllahCattle 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. 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!
“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 was wrong.”
He continued: “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!”
The governor challenged Ekiti people to be on alert against any attack by herdsmen, saying: “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.”
He also reiterated his resolve on the grazing law he signed in the state: “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.
“Therefore, 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.”