The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) drew the ire of some Nigerians and groups yesterday after one of the leaders of the herders’ organisation became embroiled in the ongoing political drama involving Senate President Bukola Saraki.
One Alhaji Garus Galolo, said to be Miyetti Allah’s Benue State coordinator, had in an interview with a national daily added his voice to the repeated call by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Saraki’s resignation, following his defection to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Galolo said: “Saraki ought not to be in office again as Senate President. More so, Saraki has failed to coordinate and organise the National Assembly to offer quality legislation that Nigerians need.
“Nigerians are in dire need of people that have the interest of the masses. Miyetti Allah is looking for a leader that would preside over the affairs of the Senate with ultimate respect for the executive and the judiciary, not someone like Senator Saraki that would always scheme to outdo the Presidency.
“We are tired of Saraki’s style of leadership at the National Assembly. Therefore, we are now warning him to honourably resign his position as president of the Senate or we will force him out.”
Galolo’s position, however, drew intense backlash, forcing the group’s national body to distance itself from the statement, in what might have been an attempt to amend MACBAN’s embattled public image.
But this was not before the PDP condemned the speech and issued an ultimatum. “In the light of these treasonable and inciting utterances by Miyetti Allah, we demand that President Muhammadu Buhari, should within the next 24 hours, order the arrest and commence the immediate trial of the leadership of this group, otherwise Nigerians will henceforth hold him directly responsible for the utterances and actions of Miyetti Allah,” it said in a statement by Spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan.
According to the party, “This unguarded statement by Miyetti Allah has exposed the synergy between the ruling party and some troublesome elements, who are being used to stoke division and create the violent crises that have resulted in daily bloodlettings in various parts of the country.
“It is now abundantly clear to Nigerians that those fomenting crises, including the bloody clashes in Benue, Taraba, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Edo, Borno, Yobe, Enugu, Kogi, Adamawa and other states in our country, have political backers, who now want to channel them to achieve their unpatriotic quest to subvert our constitution and forcefully take over the National Assembly.”
The PDP claimed Miyetti Allah “has always represented the military wing of the APC and the Buhari presidency,” noting: “It is incontrovertible that they have now become the fourth arm of government that can determine when and how to forcefully remove the number three citizen, the president of the Senate.
“It is common knowledge that Mr. President has come under heavy public criticisms on how his body language has condoned the unguarded utterances and actions of these characters.”
Also denouncing the statement, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, said it was “becoming clear by the day that the Miyetti Allah has not only assumed the position of the ruling party but is also influential to decisions of governance in this country.”
He said this was not the first time Miyetti Allah groups have made inflammatory statements. “The other time, the groups held press conferences and threatened to unleash terror on Benue people. They made real their threats and came out to claim responsibility for the killing of over 500 innocent Benue people between January and this month.”
Ortom added: “Miyetti Allah and the APC now sound like one association with similar objectives. Nigerians should compare the tone of APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole when he threatened that the party would force Saraki out of office if he failed to resign and the latest threat by MACBAN to forcefully evict the senator from office. The words are similar, the motive the same and the agenda also one.”
On its part, pro-democracy group, Movement for Democratic Change (MDG), asked Buhari to call MACBAN to order. It said the group simply “echoed the mindset and plans of its paymasters and those giving it state support.”
A non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), also condemned the statement and urged the heads of the nation’s security agencies to rein in the group.
Meanwhile, issuing the disclaimer, MACBAN’s national secretary, Baba Uthman Ngelzarma, was quoted as saying: “The attention of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria has been drawn to an interview granted by one Garus Gololo in Makurdi (in a newspaper) titled, ‘Resign or we will force you out’ – Miyetti Allah to Saraki. This statement is unfortunate. I will categorically state that Garos Gololo spoke in his personal capacity and has no mandate to speak on behalf of the association.
“Miyetti Allah is a non-partisan association with no interest in the political terrain and we can’t meddle in the affairs of political actors thereby compounding our already obvious challenges.
“I therefore urge all and sundry to disregard this statement. This statement is not from MACBAN and should be disregarded in its entirety. We take exception to this statement. Garos Gololo is entirely on his own and will be sanctioned accordingly. We cannot afford to add to the many challenges we are confronted with.
“I’m therefore appealing to the general public to disregard this statement as it is coming from someone who doesn’t have the mandate of the association to speak on its behalf.”
In a related development, PDP senators yesterday vowed they would resist efforts by their APC counterparts to remove Saraki whenever the chamber reconvenes.
They affirmed this in a statement jointly signed by Senators Rafiu Ibrahim and Isah Misau on behalf of the party’s lawmakers.