Fulani herdsmen association Mabcan takes to the streets of Jalingo to protest proposed anti-grazing law

FULANI cattle herdsmen's umbrella body the Maiyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban)  has taken to the streets of the Taraba State capital to protest the introduction of an anti-grazing law that will limit the activities of its members.


On May 7, Governor Darius Ishaku presented an executive bill to the Taraba State House of Assembly to prohibit open grazing across the state. This bill became necessary following a call by the House, urging the executive to take measures to bring lasting solution to the killings and destruction of property in the state as a result of herdsmen and farmers clashes.


Designed to be a law to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches, the bill is currently being debated by the house. When it finally becomes law, it will also establish a Taraba State Livestock and Ranches Administration and establish a control committee to govern the process.


Across Taraba State no fewer than 2,000 lives have been lost and property worth billions of naira have been destroyed as a result in the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers. After the anti-open grazing bill passed the second reading, the speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly Hon Peter Abel Diah, announced that the committee processing the bill was going to organise a three-week public hearing.


He said the public hearing would engage stakeholders in the state who were into farming, grazing and cattle rearing to ensure comprehensive deliberations before the passage of the bill into law.  Hon Diah explained that areas where the executive arm failed to capture in the bill would be addressed in the course of the deliberations.


However, on June 12, the Macban took to the streets of Jalingo, the state capital, in protest against the bill. Its members, in their hundreds, also stormed the Taraba State House of Assembly, demanding the stoppage of action on the bill.


Reading the protest speech, Alhaji Sahabi Mahmud Tukur, the chairman of the Taraba State chapter of Macban, said the bill was inimical, ill-intended, discriminatory and a misplaced priority. He added that the association rejected the bill in its entirety.


Alhaji Tukur said: “Grazing, like any other occupation, is cultural which, in the case of Nigeria and Taraba State in particular, is practised substantially by the Fulani people. One may be very right to state that 90% of the grazers belong to the group, however, the bill expected to provide this occupation has no provision whatsoever for the members.


For instance, those who drafted it did not find it expedient to get our inputs, neither did they consider to establish ranches for us to permanently settle for proper grazing. We call on members of the state house of assembly who are representatives of the people to stop this bill in the collective interest of those they represent."


He threatened that there would be a breakdown of law and order in Taraba State should the House insist on passing the bill into law. Alhaji Tukur also said the association and its allies would proceed on a one-week strike to press home their demands.


“There will be no red meat, no cow in the market and all butchers will boycott market activities for seven days should the House fail to listen to our demands," Alhaji Tukur said.


Hon Diah, however,  condemned the Macban statement that Taraba State would witness a breakdown of law and order should the House pass the bill into law. He said the association was protesting in ignorance since all of the issues raised in the protest were accommodated in the proposed bill and there was room to listen to the concerned persons during the planned public hearing.


According to the speaker, all issues not stated clearly or seem confused to the public would be addressed during the public hearing. He added that the Taraba State House of Assembly had earmarked Wukari as a centre for the public hearing for the people of the southern zone, Bali for the people of the central zone and Jalingo, the state capital, for the people of the northern zone.


He called on Macban to list the areas they were not comfortable with in a memorandum for the public hearing. Hon Diah further stressed that the House had given room for groups and individuals to attend the public hearing with their lawyers.