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Plateau Massacre: Our Story, By Miyetti Allah

•We now have a lead on killings – Istifanus Dung Gyan, lawmaker representing attacked villages
•MACABAN responding to pressure – Afenifere spokesperson
By Olalekan Bilesanmi
Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN’s National Secretary, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, has insisted that his group has nothing to do with last week’s massacre in Plateau State’ villages which claimed more than 100 lives.
Nzelzarma’s position came against the backdrop of the claim by the MACABAN Chairman (North Central Zone), Danladi Ciroma, who said the killings were in retaliation for the rustling of 300 cows in the attacked communities.
Ngelzarma spoke on a day Hon. Istifanus Dung Gyan, representing Markin Ladi/Riyon Federal Constituency, Plateau State, and specifically the villages where the massacre took place, said a lead may have been provided on the killings.
Mr Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere spokesperson, on his part, described the MACABAN’s National Secretary’s statement as responding to pressure from Nigerians.
Excerpts from interviews:
What do you make of the statement by your Zonal Chairman in the North Central that the latest killings in Plateau were retaliatory for the rustling of cows?
Ngelzarma: The statement made by our Zonal Chairman is not our position. He was not mandated in any way to represent the national body of the association. To that extent, we consider that as his personal opinion because that is not the position of Miyetti Allah. Up till now, we have not made public our position. Before we release a position on an issue as sensitive as this one, we have to call a meeting of the executive council, discuss, analyse and get inputs from our branch in Plateau State before telling the world our position.
You are saying it is a matter of hierarchy now but if that is the statement he made which you described as his personal opinion, is it not possible that it reflects the mind-set of the followers?
Not in anyway. Before he speaks, he has to carry along the state branch. When did he make the statement? The day after the crisis! At the said time, the state branch had not been given time to analyse the issues surrounding the massacre. So we don’t how he jumped to make this nasty, horrible statement. This is not the position of the association. The only people who are authorised to speak on issues of this nature to the public are the National President, my humble self as the National Secretary and the Public Relations Officer of the association after clearance by the EXCO. Look at how many were killed in this carnage. We do not support this type of thing. We don’t condone it. It is condemnable. We condemn it in all ramifications. We know the good work the governor is doing and sympathise with him. He has invested a lot in peace in three years. He has almost succeeded in bringing peace. See how the Fulani and the Berom are working together in the mining fields, in business before this crisis. The crisis is taking us back to where we started building peace.
While you attribute this to personal opinion, the reality of the matter is that those who carried out the latest killings appeared like those who have been wreaking havoc in Plateau in recent times. In view of that, what is your response to those who say that Mr Danladi Ciroma should be invited by the DSS to tell what he might know on Plateau at the moment?
Security agencies have a responsibility and they have a way of doing their work. All our hopes are on the security agencies to end the killings in the country because, as I always say, our members are also affected considering what took place in so many places, from Demboro down to Kasa. Look at what happened to our members in these places. They have been suffering; they have been losing their lives, property. In Benue, for example, farmers are put in internally displaced persons camps, taken out of their comfort zone because of this crisis. Herdsmen are relocating, losing their cows and their lives; nobody is a winner in this crisis. The only solution is for security agencies to be up and doing in trying to bring the perpetrators of these killings to justice.
The last time we discussed on this platform was about a month ago and the issue had to do with Benue State. I recall asking you about the carnage attributed to Miyetti Allah making inflammatory statements that they will not accept anti-grazing law and that they will make the state ungovernable. You disowned the statements. This new statement comes out now and you say it is the personal opinion of your Zonal Chairman who made it. At what point does your organisation begin to think about this trending notion that there is a sinister motive somewhere?
There is no way we will take responsibility because our association is a non-violent, non-political association established to cater for the welfare of herdsmen in the country. My attention was even drawn to an article this morning in a newspaper where somebody was speaking about bloodbath and legitimization of terrorism, and condemned MACABAN. I want to make it categorically clear that MACABAN, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, is entirely different from Miyetti Allah Cultural Association. The governor of Benue is having problem with Miyetti Allah Cultural Association, not MACABAN. MACABAN is not faceless. MACABAN has an office in Abuja. MACABAN is a legitimate body. MACABAN has respected traditional rulers as members, Board of Trustees’ members. So this statement coming from an individual who does not have authority to represent this association in anyway…is unfortunate.
But he is the Chairman of the association in the zone.
Yes, but he has his own responsibilities. By making him the Chairman does not give him a blank cheque to represent the association in an unauthorised manner. Those who are supposed to represent MACABAN at the state level are the state Chairman, Secretary and the PRO on matters affecting their states, they are mandated to interface with the media and tell the world the perspectives affecting the association in their states. When it comes to the nation, the national will still get inputs from the states. When we have necessary information with pictures; that is when we have the authority to go to the media, because of the fear of statements that may backfire. So we have to have something we can hold on to before we face the media and say the position of the association. We don’t operate in a vacuum; we operate based on laid down processes; that is how the association was established. This guy has no mandate to represent this association on a matter of this type or any matter for that matterClick to continue reading.

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