Following the recent airstrike and killing of some herdsmen by the Nigeria Air Force, a coalition of pastoralists associations wants the Federal Government to take responsibility for the killings and compensate the victims.
The group, Coalition of Pastoralists Associations (CPAN), led by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), made this demand at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
Some herders were reportedly killed in airstrikes in Rukubi, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State a border area with Benue on Jan. 24.
Herdsmen reportedly went to the area to retrieve 1,250 of their cows impounded by the Benue Livestock Guards.
The Nigeria Air Force was said to have carried out the airstrike based on intelligence report that some terrorists were gathered in the area.
Speaking on behalf of the groups, MACBAN President, Malam Othman Ngelzarma, said the killing of the innocent, law-abiding herdsmen by security forces was unfortunate.
He said 32 of the herdsmen died in the airstrike, while eight were injured and were receiving treatment in hospitals.
He urged the Nigerian military to immediately accept responsibility for the air bombardment and pay condolence visit to 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.
The MACBAN president also called for the immediate restoration of dialogue and communal harmony between herders and farmers in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba 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.
NAN reports that other groups in the coalition are Tabbital Pulaaku International, Jonfe Jam Youth Development Association of Nigeria and Fulbe Development Association of Nigeria.
Others are Fulbe Youth Development and Rights Initiative and Farmers and Hunters Initiative for Peace and Development.
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