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GOVERNMENT ministers have held meetings with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) in Kebbi State where they were offered N100bn ($276m) over two years to call off the ongoing murderous rampage of Fulani cattle herdsmen.

Over recent years, Fulani herdsmen have mounted a murderous campaign against rural farming villages, allowing the livestock to run riot and destroy farmlands. When villagers complain about it, they are attacked by heavily-armed gangs of herdsmen who ransack their villages with AK47s, sometimes leaving hundreds dead after such raids.

President Muhammadu Buhari has come under intense criticism for failing to address the issue and being an ethnic Fulani himself who owns cattle, he is seen as sympathetic to Macban. However, with the insecurity growing by the day, the government has decided to meet with Macban officials where it offered them a cash payment to call their members off.

Interior minister Lt General Abdulrahman Dambazau led the federal government delegation to the talks in Birnin-Kebbi, which lasted for over five hours. Apparently, Macban asked for N160bn but after intense negotiations, both sides settled for N100bn.

General Dambazau said: “The gathering is part of steps we have taken to tackle insecurity and clashes between herdsmen and farmers. You should not forget the fact that we have extended the meeting as a regional one when the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) hosted a conference on this.

“These issues were discussed and part of the dialogue was to provide a national action plan on security challenges and solutions by all members of the Ecowas commission and to present it to the commission for consideration. That is the main reason we have come to Kebbi State, to dialogue with leaders of herdsmen as part of the process.”

Over recent weeks, the orgy of kidnapping by Fulani herdsmen has made major national roads especially in the northwest impassable, especially, the Abuja to Kaduna Highway. Over the last month alone, herdsmen have attacked and killed many people in villages and farms in Benue, Zamfara, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kaduna, Enugu, Imo, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Abia, Kwara, Taraba, Osun, Ondo and Sokoto states.

These killings associated with the Fulani herdsmen led to them being designated as the fourth most dangerous and deadly terrorist group on earth by the World Terrorist Index. At the meeting, the inspector-general of general Muhammad Adamu, gave a grim picture of the havoc being wrecked on Nigerians by the herdsmen.

He added: “The criminals have infiltrated the crisis and we should cooperate and deal decisively with the culprits, hence we called for this interaction. Those criminals that are beyond redemption, will be dealt with and brought to book.”

Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, said hosting the meeting in his state shows the seriousness of President Buhari’s administration in tackling the security challenges in the country. Macban president Alhaji Muhammad Kiruwa, said the meeting was productive and should bring about peace.

Alhaji Kiruwa added: “This is the first of its kind in the history of this country, for the president to direct his security aides to interact with an aggrieved party to air its views. This meeting will serve as a foundation for peace between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers and among the Fulanis themselves.”

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