Following the killing of the chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria, Gwagwalada Council area, Abuja as well as other members of the association by Fulani bandits, members are now being forced to flee Nigeria to neighboring countries to escape further attacks.
Revealing this much in a recent interview with Punch, the secretary-general of the association, Ngelzeerma Usmanno said that despite coming from the same ethnic group (Fulani) as the bandits, it hasn’t stopped them from killing members of his association.
“There is no doubt that a large number of them are Fulani, but this, of course, does not stop them from killing many (of our people) and taking away cows from the pasture at the same time.
“A criminal can come from any tribe and they don’t select their victims. Whoever comes their way; they kill, kidnap and take away their cows.
“Pastoralists are trying to move out of the country for fear of attacks by bandits, who forcefully take their cows from them.
“We have lost about 15 per cent of the pastoralists. Others are also trying to move out of the country to where they can find shelter and protection for their lives and cattle.
Asked if the constant attacks on MACBAN members will lead to scarcity of beef which is the most consumed meat in the country, Usmanno said, the attacks has already affected supply in major parts of the country because cow meat has been the major source of protein in the country.
“Go to the market and price meat and compare the current price with the price of last year. You will realise that the price has skyrocketed. And it is not an imported commodity that we will say the price is being influenced by the dollar-naira exchange rate.
“Beef is locally sourced, purchased in naira and sold in naira, yet you’ll realise that the price of meat has skyrocketed by about 100 per cent, if not more.
“Undoubtedly, this is not unconnected with the activities of bandits who are rustling our members’ cows. The livestock industry is all already failing. The producers are being rendered poor; the meat no longer comes to the market in large quantity.
“And because of the rate at which our members’ cattle are being taken away, so many families have been rendered poor and you know they don’t have formal education to survive on, the only career and skill they have is to rear cattle, they don’t know anything.
“And when these cows are taken away from them, they become idle and an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. They become an easy prey for initiation into criminality. No education, no work, idleness, poverty and possession of arms, what do you expect to happen?
While appealing for government intervention to prevent a total wipe out of pastoralists, Usmanno urged the government to redouble their efforts in protecting the cattle breeders and other Nigerians alike against the activities of this criminal group.
“These are difficult times for the pastoralists because after being kidnapped, whatever money they make from selling cattle in the market they give to the bandits as ransom to secure their freedom. Yet that’s the only source of livelihood they have.
“When you kidnap their wives, daughters and others relations, the only option they have is to sell their cows to pay the ransom and rescue their loved ones from being held hostage.
“The way these things are going on are alarming and that’s why we call on the Federal Government to double up efforts in bringing peace to the pastoral industry in the country because not all pastoralists are criminals.
“Some of them are criminals, we know, but the majority are legitimate cattle rearers doing their business,” he added.