THE Northern Senators Forum on Wednesday cautioned state governors and groups against making inflammatory comments about clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
The Chairman of the Forum, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said this warning became necessary in the light of several attacks on several communities by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
According to him, Nigerians should be careful in order not to make the mistake of assuming that everyone who rears cattle is Fulani.
Adamu said, “A governor is a community leader. The only difference is that he has a label called governor. If you don’t mind, in recent times it started with the South-West when elder statesman Olu Falae had a very nasty experience.
“It was attributed at the time to Fulani herdsmen. And at the end those people were apprehended, they were not Fulani. This thing has been going on in virtually all over the country today.
“If we now say that everybody should rise and say herdsmen should leave, we will not have a country.”
The chairman explained that leaders at all levels must be careful when making statements on the issue.
He added, “If you are fair to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you will appreciate and disseminate the fact that we have tried to kill the idea that every herdsman is a Fulani man.
“As I talk to you, I have a farm, I rear cows. I am not Fulani by birth. And if you go through some northern states, you will see a lot of them.
“In fact, if you go to the South-East, you will see young men who have been emulating the Fulani in their various communities and they are involved in cattle rearing.”
He recalled that during his recent trip to the South-West to condole with the people of Osun State over the demise of the late Ooni of Ife, he saw Yoruba people rearing cows.
The chairman observed that the same scenario played out in the North-East, where there were several ethnic nationalities who were not Fulani but were involved in the cow business.
He noted that it was important to enlighten Nigerians to avoid a situation where an ethnic group would be labelled and unjustly stigmatised.
Earlier, Adamu had read a communiqué of a meeting held by members on Tuesday night.
The communiqué partly read, “We note and appreciate the steps that the Federal Government has taken so far to contain the problems of herdsmen/farmers’ clashes and call on community leaders to be careful when making statements on these ugly incidences.”
They also resolved to continue to support President Muhammadu Buhari in his quest to bring about even development to all sections of the country.
Members also agreed to work assiduously to enact laws and amend existing ones when and where necessary in order to promote the interest of northern Nigeria in particular and Nigeria in general.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Wednesday gave an insight into why herdsmen and their cattle flood Agatu in Benue State and parts of Enugu State, resulting in frequent conflicts between herdsmen and farmers.
Ogbeh said land in the Agatu-Enugu axis produced very nutritious grasses, making the area attractive to grazers and cows.
Suspected Fulani herdsmen had attacked villages in Agatu and Enugu in the past weeks, killing villagers and razing their homes.
In Agatu, up to 500 lives were reportedly lost in night raids by AK-47-wielding herdsmen.