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Ohanaeze rejects cattle colonies, condemns killings

The plan by the Federal government to establish cattle colonies in order to curb the activities of Fulani Herdsmen has continued to meet with resistance across many states of the federation, as many view the approach as another way the government wants to achieve its earlier plans to cede state lands to the herdsmen.

The latest group to speak up against this move is Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, who has rejected the plans stressing that grazing colonies was not only against the bible but another form of internal colonisation by the Fulani.

The President of the Enugu State branch of the organisation, Alex Ogbonna stated this in a statement, while condemning the killings perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen across the country.

Urging governors, lawmakers and politicians in the South East to reject the proposed move, Ogbonna insisted that grazing colonies was a grand plot to impose certain faith on the people of the region.

The statement reads, “The recent killings by Fulani herdsmen in various parts of Benue State and the Middle Belt region has once again exposed the dangerous path which Nigeria is presently walking.

“Curiously, despite the gravity of the situation, the Federal Government appears to be at a loss on how to tackle the menace, and has consequently hit on the expediency of establishing grazing colonies across the country as means of ending the constant menace of the herdsmen.

“While Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State is disposed and committed to a peaceful Nigerian society, devoid of senseless blood-letting and unconscionable massacre of innocent civilians by any group, we wish to state categorically and in the strongest terms that we reject in its totality the proposed establishment of grazing colonies in any part of Enugu State.

“Our total rejection of this hideous initiative is anchored on the following grounds:
“That the initiative is merely a more monstrous reincarnation of the dubious National Grazing Reserve Bill, which seeks to establish a National Grazing Reserve Commission that will acquire, hold, lease or dispose of any property, moveable or immoveable for the purpose of carrying out its function.

“That this initiative amounts to internal colonization of our political space basically because we cannot even challenge such unilateral acquisition in any law court in Nigeria without obtaining a leave or consent of the Attorney General of the Federation.

“That grazing colonies simply means a forceful takeover of people’s ancestral lands and assigning same to Fulani herdsmen who shall use the land for grazing purposes.

“That this initiative amounts to a deliberate attempt by the government to take over our lands and handover to Fulani herdsmen whose economy is anchored on cattle rearing.

“That Igbo economy especially in terms of agriculture and other forms of development is at risk on account of this initiative.

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“That this amounts also to enacting a law that would be preferential and advantageous to one ethnic group at the expense and detriment of other component parts of Nigeria, especially Ndigbo.

“That the reasons given by the Federal Government to justify this action are vague, preposterous and therefore totally unacceptable to the good people of Enugu State.

“Following from the foregoing, therefore, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter urges the state government, State Assembly and other institutions of the state to resist in the strongest terms the concession of any part of Enugu State for the purpose of creating grazing colonies for the Fulani herdsmen.

“We wish also to state that any attempt by central government to carry out this policy will amount to usurpation of our people’s right to existence and would thus be vehemently resisted. God Himself frowns at this kind of policy.

“According to the law of God, If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets those animals stray and graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard” (Exodus 22:5).

“We hereby state without fear of contradiction that establishment of grazing colonies is not the answer to restructuring Nigeria, an option which Ohanaeze is committed and disposed to,” the statement added.

Patrick Okohue

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