Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has suggested that as part of measures to curb banditry and terrorism in the country, the Nigerian government should establish the Ministry of Nomadic Affairs.
Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, Gumi said the establishment of this ministry would help to address the grievances of bandits and herders just as the government did to curtail the activities of the Niger Delta militants, NAN reports.
The cleric, in an interview with journalists, said, “Government should focus more attention on these people because they always say that they are aggrieved.
“What I expect from the government is nothing less than what it did, when the Niger Delta youth were vandalizing the economy.
“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,” he said.
Present at the conference, the National President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Alhaji Husseini Bosso, in his address noted that it was no longer news that kidnapping and armed banditry had become the order of the day in many communities in the country.
Bosso, however, said that contrary to the general belief that pastoralists were behind this crime, they also were victims of abductions.
“What is baffling is that crimes perpetuated 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 from 2015 to date, many pastoralists had been murdered and over two million persons had been displaced and impoverished, while over four million livestock had either been rustled, killed or confiscated by state governments outright.
He also condemned the alleged maltreatment of pastoralists by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its militant wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
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 a similar fate. For people with no known skills or trade, this is a 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 predicaments 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 the Northern Consensus Movement, Awwal Aliyu said there was a need for a holistic approach to the challenges facing pastoralists and Fulbe (Fulani) communities in the country.
Aliyu called for the integration of pastoralists into society, stressing that they had been marginalised for too long.
He, therefore, called for practical solutions to the challenges of pastoralists.