Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Worried by the spate of killings and harassments access the federation by the nomadic Fulani herdsmen, the Senate, on Thursday, resolved to carryout a public hearing, with an aim of proffering a lasting solution.
This followed a heated deliberation at the Plenary on a motion sponsored by Senator Chukwuka Utazi.
It is entitled: tackling the perennial conflicts between farmers and cattle herdsmen.
Consequently, the Red Chamber instructed its committees on National Security and Agriculture to put strategies in place to carry out investigation as of paramount national interest and urgency.
While adopting the motion, the Upper Legislative Chamber also condemned the criminal activities of some elements among cattle herdsmen, who use the cover of their trade to perpetrate harrowing despoliation of people’s farm and engage in other sundry criminal activities.
The Chamber also urged cattle owners to ensure that grazing of their cattle does not infringe on the rights of farming communities and other farmers who engage in settled agricultural production.
It urged the Federal Government to urgently establish ranches and grazing reserves across the country, and adopt other strategies to enable nomadic cattle handlers settle to modern system of livestock keeping and further urge Federal Government to negotiate all grazing reserves that cannot be easily encroached.
The Senate urged security agencies to check proliferation of heavy and light arms that makes arms easily available to Nigerians, while urging states and local government to establish ranches and modern livestock facilities.
Utazi noted that the conflict between farmers in various parts of the country and nomadic cattle herdsmen is posing grave danger to National security, harmonious communal life and national unity, stressing that perennial reports of one form of conflict or the other everyday between these two economic groups across the country from the East, to the West, to the Middle Belt and to the Northern parts of the country.
He expressed concern that herdsmen with little sensitivity to the economic and cultural interests of settled farm owners lead their cattle to graze across the farms and lands indiscriminately, leaving in their trail devastations of high proportions and high economic wastages.
“Worried that tales of herdsmen being heavily armed with modern firearms concealed among the grazing cattle and the resultant criminal activities of some elements among the herdsmen bespeak of colossal security breach and a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
“Worried also by the increasing reported cases of armed robbery, human savagery, rampant rape, maiming and kidnapping of their victims who are mostly land or settled farm owners who try to stop the devastations of their farms,” he said.
He further noted that nomadic cattle grazing is an economic activity and the owners of the cattle and the rearers should not deposit the economic interests of other farmers as they pursue theirs as this may take political and ethnic colouration with the attendant crises that may follow.
He also observed that President Muhammadu Buhari had in July of 2015 directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to initiate strategies for ending the incessant farmers and herdsmen clashes across the country and the Federal Government is said to be considering creating grazing routes for the movement of the cattle.
“Persuaded that a consideration of strategies for settled cattle farming, as being proposed by various stakeholders would be a better approach in addressing the issues associated with the rather out-dated nomadic cattle rearing system of agriculture as it would confer dignity of labour to the rearers, allow them to own decent accommodation make the animals healthier for human consumption and create a settled system of schooling for the wards of the owners and rearers of these cattle
Contributing to the motion, Senator Banarbas Gemade noted that it is high time that the federal government establish ranches across all the federation to allow for the herdsmen and their cattle graze in one place.
Also contributing, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, noted that Nigeria alone cannot resolve this crisis.
Ekweremadu stressed that Nigerians should involve their brothers across the sub-region to help in finding a lasting solution to this perennial crisis.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, thanked Utazi for moving the motion, and urged the two committees to come up with a permanent solution to the incessant crisis between the farmers and the herdsmen.