• Insists cattle breeders are prime suspects of attacks in South East
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has charged President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government to classify the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) as a terrorist group.
It argued that this had become necessary following South East leaders’ failure to get the Federal Government to take honest and concrete steps to uncover the true identity of the unknown gunmen’ wreaking havoc in the South East region and other parts of the country.
The group insisted that MACBAN and the other factions of the cattle breeders were prime suspects of the attacks targeting government institutions like the High Court in Ebonyi State and security forces in the southeast because of their earlier threats to send armed Fulani vigilantes to the South East region.
In a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said: “It is possible they are doing these to compel the southeast governors to endorse the plan to have their armed vigilantes in the geopolitical zone to protect herdsmen.”
It condemned what it described as “President Buhari’s hypocrisy” in overlooking several open threats by the Miyetti Allah to send armed vigilantes to the South East, just as it carpeted the southeast governors for their failure to defy President Buhari and dialogue with all groups and stakeholders.
The rights group also lamented their failure to engage influential persons in the South East to convince the Indigenous People of Biafra (IBOB) to join forces with the political leaders to unmask the identity of the unknown gunmen, whose objective, it said, was to destabilise the South East and turn it into a theatre of war.
HURIWA recalled that on June 20, 2019, MACBAN openly canvassed the establishment of Fulani Youth Vigilante group in communities of the South East to complement its host community counterparts and other security apparatuses in the zone.
The Guardian recalled the cattle breeders’ request for which the southeast governors told them that nobody in the zone was against rearing of cattle, but that it was important for everyone to understand that there were rules of engagement in every relationship, including that of herders and farmers.
But the people of the South East vehemently rejected MACBAN’s plot to import their armed mercenaries to the region.
“Again, on April 5, 2021, MACBAN threatened to deploy 5,000 vigilantes to the South East to protect herdsmen in the zone, but IPOB warned the association to steer clear of Igbo land, just as it threatened to deploy the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to the North.
“There is a convincing reason to believe that members of MACBAN may have made good their threats to send armed marauders and mercenaries to the South East and these atrocities committed by unknown gunmen may actually be the handiwork of the armed Fulani mercenaries deployed to the region based on this well-documented information,” the statement reads.
HURIWA also accused the military of dereliction of duty and for deliberately allowing gunmen to continue to carry out their dastardly crimes as the president was yet to give them directives to eradicate the gunmen, because of the likely involvement of the cattle breeders.