The Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, and Ibagwa Nike community in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu state on Tuesday signed an accord to ensure peaceful coexistence.
The development was the outcome of a town hall meeting between the community leaders and representatives of Miyetti-Allah, led by the Sarki Hausa, Yusuf Sambo.
The convener of the meeting and Traditional Ruler of the community, Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu, said that the meeting was organised to enable the herders and their host communities to deliberate on ways to foster peace and avert future conflicts.
The monarch, who is the grand patron of MACBAN in the South-East, said that the community had continued to pursue peace, in spite of alleged provocations from the herders.
He said that the meeting would help to enlighten the herders on how to carry out their activities ahead of the take-off of the newly recruited forest guards in the state.
Mr Ugwu said, “The forest guards are not under me and that is one of the reasons I called you in order not to have problems. So, this meeting is to protect you.”
He expressed worry over the activities of the herders who, he alleged, had continued to destroy farmlands in the community, in spite of the kindness shown to them.
The monarch said that he broke down in tears after inspecting some farms destroyed by cattle and wondered why children were being deployed as herders.
He said that the meeting would set up a committee to inspect the farms, evaluate the worth of the damage and negotiate compensation to be paid as a way to pacify frayed nerves in the community.
“I want us to continue to stay together in peace. Try and protect the community where you live as we are protecting you,” Mr Ugwu said.
The sarki Hausa commended the monarch for organising the peace meeting, adding that the nation would experience greater peace, if opinion leaders should take similar initiatives.
He said that the herders had testified to the cordial relationship that existed between them and the community.
“A situation where a leader will see settlers as part of their community is quite commendable.
“I am delighted to hear from the herders that their businesses are flourishing in this community,” he said.
Mr Sambo, who is the Chairman, Enugu State Cattle Control Committee, said he would ensure that any herder, whose cattle destroyed farmlands, would be made to pay compensation.
He also opined that any farmer, who wilfully killed a cow would also be made to pay compensation.
Earlier, one of the herders, Mohammed Elias, said that members of the community had been good to them, adding that there had not been any conflict between them.
The Chairman of MACBAN in the state, Ibrahim Umar, said that their members would be cautioned not to destroy farmlands.
Mr Umar said that the body cherished the long-standing relationship with the community.