UPDATED: Herders Crisis: Southwest Govs Ban Underage Herders, Night, Open Grazing

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), on Monday agreed with the governors of the South-West to ban all activities of under aged herders operating in the region.

They also agreed to ban all activities of night and open grazing in the region.

The agreement was the highlights of the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, between the NGF and the leadership of MACBAN in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

The meeting, held at the Ondo State International Event Centre, in Akure, was chaired by the Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi.

Some of the governors in attendance include Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Mohammed Abubakar of Jigawa State, and Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State.

Heads of security agencies in the South west zone and the leadership of MACBAN led by its Chairman, Alhaji Muhammadu Kiruwa were also in the meeting

Fayemi, who set the tone for the meeting, said it was convened to find a lasting solution to the incessant killings, kidnapping and crises between herdsmen and farmers in the South-west geo-political zone of the country.

He said free range grazing must be stopped to avoid conflicts between the farmers and the herders

In the communiqué read by the NGF Chairman, Dr. Fayemi, the stakeholders agreed that night grazing should be banned henceforth. It was also agreed that underage herding is inimical to security and hence be banned.

The stakeholders also condemned the illegal occupation of the state Forest Reserves.

According to the communiqué, “MACBAN should embrace and be committed to modern breeding process by creating grazing reserves and practise ranching to prevent cattle roaming about.

“The order of the Ondo State Governor was misconstrued and misrepresented by a section of the media. He only ordered those occupying the Forest Reserves in Ondo State illegally to quit.

“No one had sent anyone away from any state or region but all hands must be on deck to fight criminality.

“Criminals should be apprehended and punished, no matter their origin, class or status.

“Security agencies have been trying to stem the tide of criminality in the country but must step up their efforts in the fight.”

The communiqué also recommended the strengthening of an alternative security arrangements and make them complementary to the mainstream security agencies in Nigeria.

It also stressed the need to build partnership for peace and security with MACBAN and jointly wage war against criminality.

“Insecurity is a national challenge and not peculiar to any tribe or region but must be addressed by the cooperation of all”, he said.

While stating that MACBAN also suffers insecurity and kidnapping and thus desire peaceful coexistence, the communiqué said the association is ready for any peaceful move by the states to engender security.

As a measure to strengthen relationship among various stakeholders, the communiqué recommended the setting up of a standing committee comprising farmers, MACBAN and the government in each state (where they don’t exist) to ensure synergy and result.

It also said that states must create economic opportunities for the people and reduce opportunities for criminals in the country.

Giving a report after the meeting, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, tweeted, “Today, the South West governors held a security stakeholders’ meeting in Ondo State…, Collectively, we resolved to ban open grazing in all parts of the South-West.

“In Oyo State, we already have a law against open grazing which will continue to be implemented by our security agencies.

“I restated that we will not permit criminality as a response to criminal actions. Instead we will continue to support our security agencies to do their duties. Also, we will work with our people to face our common enemies – the criminals; kidnappers, armed robbers and bandits.”

Open grazing had been responsible for clashes between herders and farmers in the region.

The rising cases of kidnapping and sundry crimes in the region had also been linked to the activities of criminal elements who masquerade as herdsmen in their host communities.

Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu on January 18, 2021 ordered herdsmen to leave Ondo forest reserves within seven days following incidents of kidnapping attributed to Fulani herders.

Violence had erupted in Igangan, Ibarapa, on Friday when a popular Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo, well known as Sunday Igboho, alongside his followers, stormed the Fulani settlement in the ancient town to eject Seriki Fulani, Salihu Abdukadir, and herdsmen accused of perpetrating kidnappings, killings, rape to invasion of farmlands with their cattle.