Cattle breeders and farmers in Enugu on Thursday, entered into an agreement that will ensure enduring peaceful coexistence between the two groups.
The meeting was attended by leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, the Enugu State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and other stakeholders.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the South-East zonal Chairman of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, said that the gathering was strategic in order to foster peace between the groups.
Siddiki also said the meeting was to dispel insinuations in some quarters that the herders were in the state to terrorise their host communities.
“The essence of this meeting is to bring the farmers and herders together for interaction so that we will know ourselves as well as dispel the rummour that we are here to terrorise.
“We are here to feed our cattle and we are not anybody. This meeting will bring us together so that the farmers will feel at home when they see the cattle breeders.
“The cattle breeders will equally take members of their host communities as their brothers and sisters,” he said.
Siddiki said that the meeting was attended by state chairmen of Miyetti Allah in the region.
“Since most of the grazers migrate from one state to the other, we brought state chairmen here.
“The essence is to inform them that whenever something happens and it involves somebody that comes from another state, I will call the chairman to resolve it.
“The agreement is that we will promote peace between ourselves through this type of meeting which will be held constantly,” he said.
He said any issue beyond the leaders of the two groups would be directed to the central peace committee at the state level.
“We also made it known that we have a Peace and Security Committee at the Government House.
“Whenever something we cannot resolve happens at the local level, we take it to the committee for final decision,” Siddiki said.
Also, the AFAN Chairman, Mr Sunny Watarali, said that the meeting had ushered in better understanding between the two groups.
Watarali said the crux of the matter was that both group needed to respect the culture and traditions of each other in order to ensure peaceful co-existence.
He said that host communities would not accept incidences where cow mess up the source of drinking water while the host communities were also expected not to kill the cattle.
“The grey areas have been sorted out. Both parties are to respect each other; respect the culture.
“For example, you do not carry cow to urinate in the river that is the source of drinking water.
“Again, if for any reason the cow does anything wrong, our people should be patient and report, rather than resorting to self-help.
“If we can do that, such mutuality will bring about better understanding and peace,” he said.
Watarali said that the meeting was expected to be replicated in rural areas of the state.
“Subsequent meeting will be held at the local government areas where the farmers reside.
“I believe if we do that, we will be nearing achieving peace,” Watarali said.