Members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association (MACBAN) in the South East and South South zones have decried their profiling by some Nigerians as criminals and kidnappers operating in southern part of the country.
The group also described as false the suspicion that they are in the southern part of Nigeria for Fulani territorial expansion.
The members said they left their native homes to conduct the business of cattle breeding and do not engage in criminalities as erroneously held by some of their landlords in southern Nigeria.
They, however, accepted that there is no group of persons that are completely devoid of some bad eggs in their midst, but that they have been purging themselves of such identified persons.
MACBAN made the submission at a crucial meeting of its joint executive council from South East and South-South geopolitical zones in Enugu, yesterday.
The meeting had in attendance all the National Executive members from the two zones headed by MACBAN’s vice president ii, Alhaji Umar Faruok; the chairmen from the two zones, all the Fulani traditional rulers in the two zones headed by Ardo Saidu Baso and all the 11 states chairmen from the two zones.
MACBAN’s national vice director, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, who spoke to journalists, said the meeting was largely informed by the sustained reports of friction and insecurity from its members in localities spread across the South East and the South-South.
Siddiki said, “Our members are getting increasingly uncomfortable with the growing suspicion with which they are treated by a good number of people in the South East and South South.
“The leadership of MACBAN in the two Zones are worried about the demonization of herdsmen and the manner of their often being tagged and treated as criminals. This suspicion is rooted upon the speculations that herdsmen are harbingers of Fulani territorial expansionism.
“The convoking of the meeting does not presuppose an unusual provocation of the conflicts that our people experience with their native landlords. The leadership of MACBAN in the South East and South South has continued to dialogue appreciably well with the individual state government in the zones. The dialogues give hope for better understanding between our members and their host communities.
“The meeting rigorously deliberated on the daunting challenges our members encountered in the course of their business of cattle rearing in the South East and South-South. It however recognized that such problems are not limited to the zones,” he said.