Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
The Taraba state chapter of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association yesterday distanced itself from the threats of a bloodbath in states where anti-open grazing law have been implemented. The disavowal was made by its national vice chairman Mr. Husaini Yusuf Bosso.
Speaking to journalists in Jalingo yesterday, the state chairman of the association Alhaji Sahabi Tukur said that cattle breeders in the state were already exploring diplomatic and legal means of ensuring that the grey areas of the law were resolved amicably rather than taking to arms.
Tukur said that the association was already in court challenging the law and hopes to get positive judgement before the January 24 date set aside by the state government for the implementation of the law in the eastern middle belt state.
He insisted that the government has failed to put in place measures to ensure that herders have a smooth transition from the age-old tradition of open grazing, to the relatively more challenging system of ranching, a practice that requires a commitment of huge sums to acquire land, nurture it and fence it to house the cattle.
“Nobody wants trouble. We want peace and that is what we are working day and night to have. We don’t believe in bloodshed. The situation in Taraba may not be the same with the situation elsewhere; so if there are threats of bloodbath in other places, that does not apply to Taraba. Here we believe in peaceful resolution of issues. That is why we are challenging this law in court. If we were thinking of bloodletting, we would not be in court.
“The timing of the law is wrong because it fails to carry all the major stakeholders along; and the government has also failed to provide some of the basic infrastructure to enable the herdsmen key into the idea of ranching. We have less than two weeks to the take-off of the law, and not even a single foot of land has been allocated for ranching. So what do you expect the herdsmen to do,” Tukur lamented.
He, however, insisted that legal means rather than threat of violence would be explored to stall the implementation of the law pending such time as the grey areas in the law are addressed in collaboration with the members of the association.
Meanwhile, state governor Darius Ishaku has reiterated that no amount of threats or blackmail would stall the implementation of the law.
Ishaku was reacting to the statement credited to the national vice chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association Husaini Yusuf Bosson.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant Media, Mr. Bala Dan Abu, Ishaku insisted that the law was meant to foster peaceful coexistence between farmers and herdsmen, and so it was unnecessary for anyone to try to incite violence.
The governor said that the process leading to the law was not only meticulous but ensured that all the critical stakeholders were sufficiently involved to avoid a situation where the law would precipitate crisis rather than curb it.
“Such remarks are most unfortunate and uncalled for. The anti-open grazing law in Taraba state is actually aimed at addressing the perennial problem of herdsmen and farmers crises that has already claimed so many lives and wanton destruction of property. This is a situation no sane person should want. It is, therefore, unthinkable that someone would opposse it to stir rather than abate crisis”, Ishaku said.
While insisting that the recent attacks on some communities in Lau local government area of the state were unconnected to the anticipated implementation of the law, Ishaku appealed to Miyetti Allah and other stakeholders to give the law a chance to right the deficiencies of open grazing as “everyone would be better for it in the end.”
Reacting to the threats, the state Police Public Relations Officer ASP David Misal urged the people not to panic as the Command had put in place measures to ensure the successful enforcement of the law.
Misal said that the safety and wellbeing of every Nigerian remains the cardinal objective of the Nigerian Police Force, and that anyone trying to compromise the security of the nation or any part of it would be resisted by the Force.
He urged citizens to remain calm and go about their normal businesses without fear, as authorities are fully committed to ensuring their safety at all times.