Islamic cleric Sheikh Gumi has called for the establishment of the Ministry of Nomadic Affairs to address the grievances of bandits and herders terrorising the country.
Mr Gumi made the call at the Pastoralists and Fulbe Security Conference on Wednesday, in Abuja with the theme “Exploring the contemporary security challenges facing pastoralists and Fulbe in Nigeria”.
The event was jointly organised by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and Northern Consensus Movement (NCM).
The cleric, in a chat with reporters, said that the Fulani herders and other aggrieved groups should be accorded the same treatment given to the Niger Delta militants.
“Government should focus more attention on these people because they always say that they are aggrieved,” said Mr Gumi. “What I expect from the government is nothing less than what it did, when the Niger Delta youth were vandalizing the economy.”
Mr Gumi, an ardent advocate for bandits and killer herdsmen argued that “These people are also disturbing the Nigerian agriculture which is the backbone of the national economy.
“I think the government needs to be more proactive; they need attention.”
“The least they need is the Ministry of Nomadic Affairs that will look into their affairs,” Mr Gumi stressed.
The National President of MACBAN, Husseini Bosso, in his address of welcome noted that it was no longer news that kidnappings and armed banditry had become the order of the day in many communities in the country.
Mr Bosso, however, said that contrary to the general belief that pastoralists were behind this crime, they also were victims of this misdemeanor.
“What is baffling is that crimes perpetrated against pastoralists have no traction in the media. Our members have been the highest victims of criminality..
“MACBAN Chairmen in Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa States and five other local government chairmen including Gwagwalada Area Council were all recently abducted and killed.
“This buttresses the fact that we are not spared from the atrocities of the kidnappings and banditry in our communities,” he said.
He said that from 2015 to date many pastoralists were murdered and over two million persons were displaced and impoverished, while over four million livestock were either rustled, killed or outrightly confiscated by state governments.
While condemning alleged maltreatment of pastoralists by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN), Mr Bosso said that this barbaric display of inhumanity must stop.
He expressed concern that no compensation or resettlement had been given to herders who lost cattle to rustlers or other non-state actors.
“Yet no compensation, no resettlement unlike other Nigerians who suffered similar fate. For a people with no known skills or trade, this is real danger in the making.
“Recently, it has become like a competition to enact Anti-Open grazing laws without recourse to the fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the gathering would proffer solutions to the security challenges and predicament of the pastoral community in the country.
“We hope measures will be taken to implement the recommendations of stakeholders and experts that will emerge from this conference,” he said
President of NCM, Awwal Aliyu, in his remarks, said there was the need for a holistic approach to the challenges facing pastoralists and Fulbe communities in the country.
Mr Aliyu called for integration of pastoralists into the society, stressing that they had been marginalized for too long.
He, therefore, call for practical solutions to the challenges of pastoralists.