The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria is criticising what it described as the arbitrary arrest and persecution of its members by the police and a council chairman in Taraba.
Mafindi Danburam, MACBA’ northeast zonal chairman stated this at a press conference in Jalingo on Sunday when he accused Hon. Shiban Tikari of persecuting scores of herdsmen in the Takum council area.
According to him, some Miyetti Allah members had on Wednesday, March 14 went to Bantaje Cattle Market to sell their cows and while on their way back, 52 of them were arbitrarily arrested by the police as instructed by Tikari and were later transferred to the state police command in Jalingo.
“We have visited the command and demanded for reasons for their arrest, charges against them and the complainant statement which have not being made available to us,” he said.
“We are really in the hands of elements of destruction who believe that a Fulani man has no right to live and enjoy his right as a citizen in Taraba State.
But Taraba’s police command said 54 persons were arrested following a tip-off the police received that there was a mass movement of people suspected to have unleashed terror on Bawe, Panshen, Muji 1 and Muji 2 villages in Takum LGA.
According to Commissioner of Police David Akinremi, the police intercepted four vehicles loaded with herdsmen, and some suspects were ready to attack another area.
The CP said his men brought the suspects to the state command in Jalingo for interrogation to determine their innocence on the allegation.
The commissioner said even though nothing incriminating was found on the suspects, the police had already conveyed 41 of them to Kashimbilla where they claimed to have cows.
“Five of the suspects confessed to be cattle rustlers, while six were believed to be among the perpetrators of the violent attacks in Takum and its environs in recent times,” he said.
Tikari also told journalists that as a council chairman, he was duty bound to report the suspects to the security operatives.
Takari said the number of herdsmen without herds trooping to the areas nine months before their seasonal movement called for suspicion.
“The recent attacks on Panshen, Bawe, Muji 1 and 2 villages, and the information at our disposal that marauders were planning more attacks in Mudi, Tati and Manya meant my alarm was in order,” said the chairman.
No fewer than seven people lost their lives in recent attacks in the area.