THE Federal Government, on Tuesday, said those responsible for incessant attacks on communities in recent times are not Fulani heardsmen, adding that some of the perpetrators were elements of the Boko Haram insurgents.
Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heneken Lokpobiri, who stated this at a public hearing in the Senate, on the incessant herdsmen/farmers clashes, said those found to be inflicting violence on farming communities in recent times were not Nigerians, adding that they were also not the usual Fulani herdsmen known for cattle rearing and grazing in the country.
The government also announced plans to establish cattle ranches across the country, as a way of resolving the perennial farmers/herdsmen clashes.
According to the minister, the culprits of incessant attacks on communities were elements of the Boko Haram insurgents.
He said none of the apprehended persons perpetrating the violence had been able to speak any Nigerian language.
He declared that creation of ranches was just the way to go, adding that keeping cattle in the ranches would restrict their movement and ensure they stayed in one place.
The minister told the joint hearing if the Senate Committees on Agriculture, Rural Development and National Security and Intelligence that no fewer than nine states of the federation had given some 5,000 hectares of land each for establishment of ranches.
He said the creation of ranches would put to an end, incessant clashes between the modern day herdsmen and farming communities.
“Available statistics to us in government show that contrary to media report that these violent herdsmen are the conventional Nigerian Fulanis, they are not, as none of those apprehended was able to speak any of the Nigerian languages, giving strong credence to the possibility of the violent herdsmen to be another form of terrorists in the mode of Boko haram,” Lokpobiri stated.
He further stated that though the country had 415 grazing reserves in the northern parts, most of the areas had no grass due to problem of desertification.
Speaking on the benefits of ranching, Lokpobiri explained that the modern way of rearing cattle and achieving the best of productivity in animal husbandry is ranching, adding that Nigeria had just 19 million cows with a population of 160 million population, whereas Brazil, with a similar population, has 220 million cows.
He said countries like, Brazil, United States of America and Saudi Arabia were making the best use of ranches to enhance productivity in animal husbandry.
Stakeholders from different ethnic nationalities, including Tivs, Idoma, Ohaneze and the South-South, who spoke through their representatives, supported the proposal of the call for creation of ranches.
The stakeholders, however, said it was wrong for the Federal Government to deploy public resources to establish grazing reserves for herdsmen.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, then rose against the submissions, saying that the government was free to establish grazing reserves anywhere.
“Nobody can stop government from acquiring land anywhere. Government is government. If anybody thinks he is violent, government has the monopoly of violence,” he said.
The Fulani herdsmen, represented by the Miyetti Allah, insisted that grazing reserves routes should be sustained, while they also asked that Ministry of Livestock be established to cater for the animals.
The Fulani group, represented by the National Secretary of the Nyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Baba Othman Ngeizarma, in his paper, recommended that government should demarcate trans-human routes and cattle resting points with support from technical and financial partners.