Sir: The brutal killings in Benue State have led to strident calls for the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association to be declared a terrorist group. In reply, the Federal Government says that unlike groups like IPOB, Miyetti Allah has no political or ideological inclinations or demands.
According to the government, the cattle herders are simply defending their cattle from rustlers and looking for grazing land. The latest killings are linked to a law enacted in Benue state which criminalises the practice of herding cattle across private lands in search of pasture. The law stipulates that cattle should be confined to a ranch. However, Miyetti Allah members have said that they won’t obey the law and there will be no peace until the law is repealed.
The Federal Government’s view that such action does not amount to terrorism does not take into account that most definitions of terrorism include using violence to influence the actions of a government or people. Also land is an economic resource and a factor of production control of which is essential in several non industrialised economies. In Benue state and other states in Nigeria, the Miyetti Allah want control of land that is not theirs for grazing without respect or recognition of the property rights of the owners of the land. The violent actions of Miyetti Allah are meant to induce state governments and indigenes of such states to allow the unrestricted use of their lands for cattle grazing in furtherance of their cattle business. Disobeying the laws of a state and demanding the repeal of a law through violence is terrorism simpliciter.
Miyetti Allah Cattle breeder’s bovine terrorism is akin to that of Latin American drug gangs which has been labelled narco-terrorism by the United States of America. Drug gangs brutally butcher anti drug enforcement agents, business rivals and even innocent civilians in a bid to ensure the continued sale of hard drugs. In fact a notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar went on rampage against the Colombian government because he wanted to be allowed to continue with his drug trade. He was eventually killed by a combined team of Colombian and USA military and law enforcement agents. Likewise Miyetti Allah want to conduct their business at the expense of other people.
Miyetti Allah should be declared a terrorist organisation as long as they persist in their violent manner of demanding grazing land. The same vigorous military means used to suppress IPOB should also be used to suppress bovine terrorism.
John Obi wrote from Abuja.