We will not accede to FG’s request for pasture land for grazing – Middle Belt group


State governors have been urged by a group called Middle Belt Patriots to resist giving in to pressure from the federal government to give up land to Fulani herdsmen so they can graze.

According to the group, granting these demands would make the security situation in the middle belt and other regions of the nation worse. This was reported by Saturday PUNCH.

At the flag-off of the agricultural mechanisation revolution for food security on Monday in Minna, the capital of Niger State, President Bola Tinubu urged governors to donate portions of their states’ land for ranching.

The Middle Belt Patriots questioned how the federal government continually accommodates the interests of the pastoralists at large in a statement released today and signed by its Director of Media and Strategic Communications, Steven Kefas.

the detriment of the indigenous population.

Insisting that the people of the Middle Belt would resist any unconscionable measures aimed at dispossessing them of their God-given heritage, the group which further described the stance of the federal government overnment on grazing land as provocative, said, “We of the Middle Belt Patriots vehemently condemn and reject the recent directive from the federal government asking state governors to make land available for grazing by herdsmen.

“This provocative and ill-advised order shows a shocking disregard for the already tenuous security situation in the Middle Belt region that has been under sustained violent attack by armed Fulani ethnic militias.

“We sternly warn the political leaders, monarchs and youth/community leaders of the Middle Belt region – Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, and sections of Taraba, Adamawa, Bauchi, Southern Kaduna and Gombe- to outright disregard and defy this reckless federal directive. Capitulating to these demands and ceding more land for grazers will only fan the flames of the ethnic clashes, further the genocidal massacres, escalate the violent displacement of indigenes from their ancestral lands and jeopardise the fragile peace in a region that has already suffered immensely.

“The grazing of cattle is a private business enterprise; it leaves more questions than answers as to why the Federal Government is deliberate on arrogating farmlands to themselves to be handed over to private herders? We forcefully remind the authorities in Abuja that pig farmers in the core northern Sharia states like Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Jigawa and Sokoto have to struggle, invest and acquire land for their vocations without any such unconstitutional government directives.

“The same should apply to the cattle herders – if they need land for their trade, they should approach willing farmers and residents to lease or purchase lands for grazing through legitimate means. No farmer or landowner should be forcibly dispossessed of their property.

“We deplore how the federal government constantly panders to the interests of the pastoralists at the detriment and displacement of the indigenous populations whose lands and lives are being overrun by the armed ethnic militias affiliated with the herders.”

The group said in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State alone, over 200 Kuteb villages have been sacked, with thousands displaced from their homes and ancestral farmlands in a severe humanitarian catastrophe caused by herders.

It added, “The Kuteb people are traditionally renowned farmers whose agricultural lands and means of livelihood have been completely destroyed by herders and armed militancy.

“It is an absolute travesty that their cries for security, justice and succour have fallen on deaf ears, while their land grabbers and tormentors are being rewarded with more official edicts to further dispossess them.

“The government should put an immediate stop to these illegal land grabs and acts of impunity. The cattle herders are private business operators and should be compelled to lawfully lease, purchase, or negotiate grazing lands with willing landowners instead of having lands forcibly taken from defenceless indigenous populations at gunpoint.

“The Middle Belt Patriots will resist these unconscionable measures through all legal and legitimate means at our disposal.”

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