The national president of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Baba Othman Ngelzarma, has said the group lost over 200 pastoralists to attacks in Plateau State in the last two months.
He also said more than 40 settlements belonging to their members were burnt.
Ngelzarma, who made the claim in a statement Saturday, was reacting to a submission credited to Mwaghavul Development Association, which said the MACBAN should be held responsible for killings in the state.
Mwaghavul and Fulani ethnic groups have been at loggerheads in the last two months, especially in Mangu Local Government Area, where hundreds of lives were lost.
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“For the records, MACBAN wants to make it clear that in the last two months, over 200 pastoralists were killed and over 40 settlements burnt down by members of the Plateau State Operation Rainbow, security outfit and other militia.
“The recent report by the military on the killing of some members of the police
constabulary in the state and the capture of weapons, clearly indicate that the state government is deeply involved, like in several other attacks on pastoralist settlements. The association has observed that since the 2023 elections.
“While thousands of pastoralists have been displaced and left to fend for themselves with colossal damage to their economic activities and means of livelihood, the Plateau State Government never extended any relief to them.
“The stigmatisation of pastoralists as not being indigenes in these areas makes them legitimate targets of attack by the state operated rainbow outfit and militias. These attacks have left the poor and vulnerable traumatised and have become target of hate,” he said.
The group, however, called on the federal government “to disband with immediate effect, the Operation Rainbow security outfit and bring to book the perpetrators and other actors to serve as deterrent to others, as well as a panacea to peace on the plateau.
“The ethnic cleansing that has been ongoing in the plateau must be stopped by the federal government as a matter of urgency to forestall further breakdown of law and order across the state. As an association, we reaffirm our unalloyed loyalty to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Plateau State in particular,” he said.
But the coordinator of Operation Rainbow, Bashir Makamma, while responding to the allegation by MACBAN, said that soon after the receipt of the allegation, he tried to see the houses claimed to have been destroyed, and corpses of the victims said to have been killed but could not see any, saying the allegation was misleading.
He said, “Operation Rainbow is impartial. It is not made to favour one side. The personnel of the operation are drawn from formal agencies like the police, civil defence and the military, and they cannot go beyond their role. Those who lead the personnel are from formal agencies. It is not true that they went and burnt houses.”