Herdsmen and their livestock on the move in Nigeria.
The nascent group, Coalition of Pastoralists Associations of Nigeria (CPAN, wants the Federal Government to take responsibility for the deaths of some herdsmen resulting from recent airstrikes allegedly conducted by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
CPAN is also insisting on compensation for the victims of the airstrikes, which reportedly occurred in Rukubi, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State a border area with Benue State on January 24, 2023.
The Air Force reportedly effected airstrikes in the said location based on intelligence report that some terrorists were gathered in the area, consequently affecting herdsmen who reportedly went to the area to retrieve 1,250 of their cows impounded by the Benue State Livestock Guards.
Led by its Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) component, CPAN had tabled its position at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
CPAN encompasses other groupings, including the Tabbital Pulaaku International, the Jonfe Jam Youth Development Association of Nigeria, the Fulbe Development Association of Nigeria, the Fulbe Youth Development and Rights Initiative, as well as Farmers and Hunters Initiative for Peace and Development.
Speaking CPAN, MACBAN President, Malam Othman Ngelzarma, said that the killing of innocent, law-abiding herdsmen by security forces was unfortunate.
He explained that 32 of the herdsmen died in the airstrikes, while eight were injured and were receiving treatment in hospitals.
He urged the Nigerian military to immediately accept responsibility for the air bombardment and visit the surviving victims.
“We, on behalf of the victims of these bombardments call for the immediate admittance of responsibility by the Nigerian military, unreserved apology and condolences to the families of the deceased pastoralists.
“We also call for the empaneling of an independent judicial commission of enquiry.
“The commission should identify and prosecute individuals and entities involved in the murder, cattle rustling, kidnapping and extortion of pastoralists in Benue and neighbouring states since 2017,’’ he said.
He urged the Federal Government to provide security for all innocent law-abiding citizens living in parts of Benue and all its neighbouring states.
Ngelzarma demanded immediate government intervention to release thousands of livestock and innocent herders illegally held captive in Benue.
He recommended for the immediate restoration of dialogue and communal harmony between herders and farmers in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states as a panacea for future peace in the affected states.
“We are citizens not enemy combatants; we should not be killed by those who are paid to protect us,’’ he said.
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