The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has said it opposed the Benue state anti-open grazing law because the law neglected pastoralists’ interests.
The Secretary of MACBAN Benue chapter, Ibrahim Galma while speaking during the association’s meeting with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over the weekend in Abuja, said there is need for amendment of the law for it to do justice to all parties.
He said the pastoralists are not against the law, but for it to be acceptable and implementable; several aspects of it need to be corrected, thereby calling on lawyers to interfere with the state government on the necessary amendment.
Explaining further, Galma said Miyetti Allah, being a major stakeholder was not invited for all the public hearings held before the signing of the bill; “thus, we could not contribute,” he said, adding that it was after the signing that the Benue State government called the association to inform them that the implementation of the law will start on November 1, 2017.
“We went through the law and advised the government on areas that do not do justice to the pastoralist,” he said.
He said one of the major problems identified with the law was how the pastoralists were supposed to go about to secure land for ranching within the limited window period before the implementation of the law started.
“I told the governor that temporal grazing reserves should be allocated to the Fulanis pending the full implementation of the law,” he said, adding that his advice was ignored by the government.
He said another issue was the way the law was communicated to the local herdsmen. “It was communicated to the local herdsmen that the government has signed a law to drive the Fulanis out of the state,” he said, adding that on this, the association called for training and sensitization of Fulanis and local farmers before the implementation and that advice was also ignored.
Galma said even him that graduated as an Animal Scientists from the University of Agriculture, Benue State was not familiar with ranching more than watching it on television, thus the need to put in place proper advocacy, training, sensitization and technical know-how for the ranching provision of the law to work.
Also speaking, the National Secretary of MACBAN, Baba Usman Ngelzarma said the association cautioned against the law “because there is no way the cattle will be taken from herders and there will be peace in the state”, while speaking on the activities of the Livestock Guard created by the law to implement the anti-open grazing provision.
He said the association does not have problem with the Ekiti State anti-open grazing law because the law has human face in that it only prohibited night grazing.
In his open remark, NBA president, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) said the visit of MACBAN was necessary because the NBA received advice during its fact-finding mission to Benue state penultimate week that based on the volatile condition of the state, it was not a good thing for the Fulani community to participate in the stakeholder’s meeting held in the state.
Mahmoud said the association would come up with its report on its findings in the next few weeks.