Their umbrella organisation, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) is demanding compensation for its members; immediate disarmament of militants; and justice for those who died in clashes.
Benue and Taraba states accused Fulani herdsmen of being behind the killings in their states.
Seventy-three people were killed in the New Year’s Day attacks in Logo and Guma local government areas of Benue State. They were given mass burial last Thursday, January 11, 2018.
In neighbouring Taraba State, 55 people were killed in Lau Local Government. About 233 bodies were buried last week.
Samuel Ortom, Benue State Governor has accused the Miyetti Allah leadership of masterminding the killings. He called for their arrest and prosecution.
But, at a news conference in Abuja yesterday, MACBAN National Secretary Baba Usman told reporters that the pastoralists had been neglected and suffered various attacks, including the one in which he claimed 732 died in Mambilla Jos.
In Numan, he said, 82 women and children were killed.
He said the anti-open grazing law was not initiated to provide a lasting solution to the herdsmen/farmers conflict and blamed the crisis on “draconian laws” put in place by some state governments to deliberately chase away herdsmen.
He said the Ekiti State anti-grazing-law had human face and represented interest of the pastoralists, adding that members of the association were well represented while setting up the state anti-open grazing law.
He said the herdsmen had always been at the receiving end of condemnations while engaging in their legal occupation of pastoralism.
Usman, who noted that the association battled with “misguided and criminally motivated elements”, said: “The current situation in our opinion is fuelled by the draconian laws put in place by some state governments with singular aim of chasing our people out of the states simply for ethnic hatred.
“The anti-open grazing law which started in Ekiti State before it was replicated in Benue, Taraba and other states, is nothing more than a symbol of intolerance and do not in any way intend to solve the farmers/herders conflict as the livestock breeders interest is neither captured in the law nor in its implementation mechanism.
“While, as a body, we are not against any law that can engender peace, create societal harmony and stability, we cannot oblige any self-centered regulation with primordial sentiments based on injustice, intolerance and infringement of people’s rights.
“It is no longer hidden that to achieve these, some state governments are sponsoring ethnic militia against our people, recruiting and arming locals to kill our people and rustle their livestock as seen recently in Benue and Taraba,” he said.
“We confirm the position of his royal highness, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, that in spite of the fact that 732 of our people were killed in Mambilla and 82 women and children killed in Numan, nobody was arrested. We demand the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes without further delay.
“We further state that the refutal of the Emir’s position by the Taraba State Governor is merely a continuation of his desperate act of hiding the state government’s involvement and protection of the perpetrators of these acts.
“Pay compensation to the victims of all crises to reduce their level of suffering.”
There should be, “immediate disarmament of all illegally armed militias across the country in the interest of peace, security, and stability.
“We condemn in totality any attempt of branding herdsmen as terrorists as is being clamored for in certain quarters. We view this as the continuation of the hate agenda on our people and a very dangerous trend for the country.”
He said that no fewer than 1,000 of its members, including women and children, have been killed and 20,000 cattle rustled between June 2017 and January 2018 during crises in various states.
The National Secretary called for a Federal Judicial Commission of Inquiry to access the killings in order to unravel the truth and offenders.
“We call on the government to pay compensation to victims of all crises to reduce their level of suffering.
“If the government accepts that, it is left for them to establish a committee that will go and access the level of damage.
“We have a document of members that were affected by the pastoralists in the North-East but what we discovered is that none of them were captured in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) programme because they are not sedentary.”