The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has called on the Federal Government to mandate all cattle owners to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, in the country.
The Director of MURIC, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, who made the call in a statement on Thursday, said registration of cattle owners in the same way other businesses are registered will poster accountability.
“All cow owners in the country should be registered. Let us know who we are dealing with. It is becoming glaring that most of the cows we see in the South are owned by Southerners.
He alleged that some of the cattle are owned by retired army generals, leading politicians, traditional rulers, all from the South West, South East and South South.
Mr Akintola recalled an incident where cows that strayed into Professor Wole Soyinka’s compound were discovered to belong to a Yoruba man, not a Fulani.
He said: “We strongly condemn the incident in which a cow strayed into Professor Wole Soyinka’s compound at Kemta Estate, Abeokuta, on Tuesday, 9th February, 2021. It is a desecration of a hallowed space. The respected professor needs peace to be able to contribute intellectually (as usual) to the Nigerian debate. Nigeria still needs his rich interventions.
“But the incident has thrown up another dimension in the herdsmen saga. For instance, it has hitherto been assumed that all cattle are owned by Northerners and that all herdsmen are from the North. But the truth is beginning to surface. The owner of the cows that strayed into Professor Wole Soyinka’s compound happened to be a Southerner and a Yoruba. He was identified as Mr. Kazeem Sorinola, an indigene of Ijeun, Abeokuta. This is instructive,” he said.
The director claimed that the rising tension across the country inspired MURIC to offer solutions to the problem.
“The movement of cows on our roads as well as in our farms has constituted a serious security breach leading to tension across the country. In our search for solutions to the herdsmen imbroglio, MURIC has forwarded two main suggestions within the past two weeks.
“We muted the idea that the Federal Government (FG) should give herders bailout funds to enable them establish ranches. Secondly, we suggested that FG should also compensate farmers whose crops were damaged by cows which invaded their farms. We still stand by these suggestions,” he added.
Mr Akintola therefore appealed to the cattle owners to “source for funds to build ranches.”
“Stop hiding behind the Fulani façade. The movement of cows on our roads is a big threat to motorists while the free grazing of cows on our farms is a threat to food security. It impoverishes our farmers. Criminal herders also hide under the guise of tending cows to commit atrocities.
“Every cow owner must take responsibility for his herd.
“The problem of Nigeria is perception. We assume that every cow owner is a Northerner while every herdsman is a Fulani and a criminal. We must separate the wheat from the chaff, the criminal from his tribe.
“Oyenusi, the armed robber was tied to the stake, not the entire Yoruba race. Anini was executed but his Edo tribe was spared the trauma. Evans the kidnapper was tried without stigmatizing the whole Igbo people.”
Mr Akintola noted that none of the six kidnappers arrested in Abuja are Fulani, They belong to Evan’s tribe but nobody referred to them as Igbo. “That is how it should be. We must address the criminal, not his tribe,” he appealed.
“One major disadvantage of focusing on a particular tribe in our search for criminals is that it clouds our sense of judgement and enables the real criminals to hibernate while the blame is shifted to innocent people of the persecuted tribe. We must therefore stop the Hausa/Fulani stereotype.
“The signals emanating from the North are reassuring. Northern governors are clamoring for a stop to the movement of cows southwards. Northern leaders are advocating for a ban on open grazing. Some are already calling for the sensitization of herders on acceptance of ranching.”
“In our own opinion, herders are not the problem in this regard, it is the cow owners. Let cow owners demonstrate the will to start ranching and everything else will fall into place,” he concluded.