The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has described the establishment of cattle rearing settlement for herdsmen as a move to colonize the country.
The group said this in a statement on Sunday claiming that the move by the Federal Government is against the unity of the country as the herdsmen have engaged in killings of innocent Nigerians in different parts of the country.
They insisted that anyone who wants to do cattle business should on his or her own approach the Government of the state concerned to buy land and establish ranches under the prevailing regulations of such state.
“The idea is repugnant, repulsive and provocative as it seeks to colonize the rest of Nigeria under the guise of promoting cattle rearing ,which is private business that should not have the involvement of any responsible government, as lining the might of the Federal Government behind the business of one ethnic group in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria can only come from a government that is not interested in its unity.
“In the last four years, we have seen the rate at which the Fulani herdsmen have turned non-Fulani communities into killings fields with the government turning a blind eye to all their crimes while using the instrumentalities of state to defend and shield them from interrogation,” the group said.
The group asserted that the establishment of the settlements would give the herdsmen more effrontery to attack and kill host communities adding that the country is yet to try and convict any herdsmen for murder despite reports of killings.
“We challenge the Federal Government to tell us any court in the country where any herdsman is being tried today for all the killings, kidnappings, raping of women and destruction of farmland they have carried out against innocent citizens. As if the sinful silence of the government is not enough, it has now decided on a provocative measure to secure territories for them in all the 36 states of the federation.
“If the herdsmen as wanderers had perpetrated untold crimes against Indigenous people on a scale that is nothing but genocidal. It is left to the imagination what they would do when the Federal Government of Nigeria now force them on these communities as landlords.
“In no time, the Fulani herdsmen would make situation hellish for their host communities and life will become much more unbearable for them. The Fulanis across Africa would move in droves to these settlements and Nigeria will at the speed of lightning become an exclusive Fulani territory in West Africa.”
The leaders’ forum vehemently rejected the settlement and also claimed that the constitution of the country gives the state not federal government the control of lands.
“We therefore reject any attempt to establish any Fulani colony within our space in Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt. We warn all our Governors not to succumb to any pressure to cede an inch of our land for this awful project as any governor who does so would be seen as an enemy of the people he governs.
“Constitutionally and as affirmed by the Supreme Court, all land in each state is vested in the governor and not the Federal Government.