The Niger Government on Sunday sent packing 200 Fulani herdsmen from Gunu village in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state to Rijana, their ancestral village in Kaduna State.
The Director-General of the state’s department in charge of Nomadic Affairs, Alhaji Sadiq Abubakar, addressed the herdsmen shortly before their departure.
He said the decision to send them home was based on “security issues”.
Abubakar said the herdsmen erred by not informing their association in the state about their intention to migrate in such a large number with their herds.
“This is a situation which has caused tension in your temporary abode,” he said.
The director-general said such migration must be a planned one, where all the parties involved must agree on the terms of their stay.
“The parties involved in this case are the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, the state government and their proposed host communities,” he said.
Abubakar said the state government was moving the herdsmen back to Rijana, from where they could apply through their association, if they still wanted to settle in any part of Niger.
The North Central Zone Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Malam Ismaila Rebe, in his remarks, said that the herdsmen arrived in the state a week ago.
He said they first settled in the Biri forest with their cattle, but were later asked to leave as the forest was a military shooting range.
“The herdsmen had to leave their cattle under the care of a few among them, while the rest went in search of an alternative place to settle, which took them to Gunu village,” Rebe said.
He said that members of the Gunu community became apprehensive on sighting such a large number of herdsmen planning to settle in their community, and quickly alerted the authorities.
Rebe however frowned at the government’s action, and claimed that the herdsmen were harmless.
He said they were forced to relocate to the state after losing their grazing land in Rijana.
“The herdsmen are from Rijana, and they had relocated to Biri in Niger after their grazing land in Rijana was sold to members of the public. They are harmless herdsmen,” the association zonal chairman said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Niger government provided four articulated vehicles for the evacuation of the herdsmen.
Each of the vehicles was escorted by five men from the Nigeria Police and the State Security Service (SSS).(NAN)