House Of Reps Begins Probe Of Herdsmen Killings

The House of Representatives on Tuesday started investigations into the incessant killings by herdsmen in the country. It said the probe would take a wider approach to look at the root causes of the attacks. The Deputy Whip of the House, Mr. Pally Iriase, was named as the head of a seven man committee set up by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, to conduct the investigations. Iriase, while speaking at the National Assembly in Abuja, noted that efforts made by the Federal Government and its agencies so far to address the killings had some shortcomings.

He said, "These efforts, while still ongoing, are being impacted by strait laced narratives, political innuendo and ethno religious distrust. "In fact, some of these strait - laced narratives have tended to ascribe all the killings to a single cause, thus jettisoning the need to rigorously interrogate the happenings with an open, unbiased and non partisan mind.”He said the House would visit the locations of the attacks and speak with victims, survivors and other stakeholders.

Iriase added that the committee would interact with security chiefs, foreign partners and conduct a public hearing before coming up with its recommendations. Iriase spoke just as lawmakers in plenary passed a resolution, calling on the Federal Government to consider providing soft loans for herdsmen to buy land to ranch their cattle. They also called on the government to educate herdsmen on the benefits of ranching. The resolution added that the government should work out a plan with interested state governments to establish cattle breeding settlements as a way of ending the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

The House passed the resolution after a member from Nasarawa State, Mr. Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo, moved a motion on the Need to Educate and Encourage Herdsmen on the Benefits of Ranching, Instead of the Proposed Cattle Colonies in Every State of the Federation”While the majority of contributors to the debate supported ranching as the realistic and modern solution to the clashes and killings, some members of the Fulani stock opposed it. For instance, a lawmaker from Gombe State, Mrs . Aisha Dukku, argued that herdsmen knew nothing about the techniques of ranching and would find it difficult to adjust from their “way of life; their culture”

Another member from Kano State, Mr. Nasir Ali Ahmad, told the House that the only way ranching would work was for the Federal Government to provide dams and irrigation facilities for the herdsmen for all - year round feeding. He said, "Herdsmen cannot ranch and feed their cattle alone because the venture will be too expensive for them to finance”A member from Benue State, Mr . Ezekiel Adaji, however, said cattle rearing should be treated as a private business. "The herdsmen should make provisions for their business . That is the global best practice, Adaji stated. However, the majority of lawmakers passed the motion backing ranching and education for herdsmen.

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