The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) has said that they are very comfortable living in the Southeast of the country due to peaceful coexistence they enjoy with their hosts. Reacting to the instruction given by Northern Elders Forum (NEF) asking herdsmen in the South to return to the North, Chairman of Southeast Zone of MACBAN, Alh. Gidado Siddiki, Anambra State chapter told Sunday Sun newspaper that Fulani herdsmen have been living peacefully with the people of Southeast.
He disclosed that there has not been any formal communication from the NEF or any other relevant authority from the North asking herdsmen to return to the North.
“The challenges our people are having in Southern Nigeria prompted the call or suggestion by the Northern Elders Forum. However, nobody has informed me officially. Nobody is planning to go back to the North unless we are forced to go. The only thing that will make them to go is if they feel unprotected. If there is protection, why should they go? But if there is no protection they will have no other option than to go.”
Asked if he was making any effort to ensure that there is peaceful coexistence between the herders and their host communities in the Southeast, he said: “There is cordiality between my members and our hosts. Some of these things that are happening, I don’t know their origin. But I don’t think it is from the good people of the Southeast. I don’t know what prompted these challenges we are facing in Southern Nigeria because what I know is that we have cordiality with the people of the Southeast.
“We always partner with some groups in the Southeast to broker peace. So, I don’t know why this thing is happening. But what I know is that it is just a trial and it will come to an end.”
On how he intends to settle disputes between herdsmen and farmers in the future, he said: “Whenever farmlands are destroyed by Fulani herdsmen, we go there and assess the level of damage and then pay the owner of the farm. It is the same thing when a cow gets killed. The leaders of the community facilitate the payment for the cow.”
Northerners in Imo State have declared that they did not get any return-to-North notice, stressing that even if such directive was given, they have no plans to leave the state. Senior Special Assistant to Imo State Governor, Suleiman Ibrahim, who spoke with Sunday Sun added that Imo has never been detrimental to them, maintaining that his people had sworn never to leave the state.
Ibrahim said: “We never received any notice from anybody to quit from the state. Why should we leave, we are in Nigeria, where are we going to? We shall continue to live in peace with our hosts. We don’t have any issues with the people here, they love us and we love them; I thank Almighty Allah for bringing us to Imo, there is no home like Imo.”