The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has condemned the killing of 31 herdsmen by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
On Tuesday night, no fewer than 30 herders were killed in an explosion, suspected to be a bomb, thrown by the Air Force in Rukubi, a town on the border between Benue and Nasarawa States.
The victims were laid to rest on Wednesday in a mass burial attended by Deputy Governor Emmanuel Akabe, Commissioner of Police, Emirs of Doma and Lafia, Doma LG Chairman, State MACBAN Chairman, among others.
In a statement on Wednesday, MACBAN president, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, said the herders that were killed went to get 1,250 of their cows impounded by the Benue livestock guards.
Ngelzarma said the herders had paid N29 million for allegedly violating the anti-open grazing law in Benue, and were offloading the livestock in Nasarawa when they were hit by a blast on Tuesday night.
He added that those killed are “31 Pastoralist, 8 Hausa Butchers from Benue who have escorted the vehicles to upload the cows and four (4) others are now on admission in Lafia Hospital.”
The statement reads, “The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria condemns the Barbaric killing of 30 Pastoralists with unspecified number of livestock by a purported Bombing raid from unknown source on January 21st 2023 in Rukubi Community, Ikye Development Area, Doma Local Government Nasarawa State.
“Those killed had gone to Makurdi to retrieve about 1,250 of their cows impounded by the Benue Livestock guards after paying a fine of about 29 Million Naira for violating the “anti-open grazing law of Benue State”.
“After paying, the pastoralist had hired vehicles from Makurdi to convey back their seized livestock to Rukubi, and it was in the process of offloading their livestock that an attack was conducted which killed 31 Pastoralist, 8 Hausa Butchers from Benue who have escorted the vehicles to upload the cows and four (4) others are now on admission in Lafia Hospital.
“His Excellency, the Deputy Governor Nasarawa State, Commissioner of Police, the Emirs of Lafia & Doma, the Doma LG Chairman and the State Chairman MACBAN were all in attendance during the Burial of the deceased in Rukubi Community today.
“This is the Third time we have experienced such happenings. In the last two happenings it was clear that the Airforce is being involved in strafing livestock between the border of Benue & Nasarawa State within the Last One year.
“But in the recent one it is not clear whether it was a Bomb Blast, distant attack or an Airstrike as reported by our Nasarawa State Branch.
“MACBAN describes the action as not only condemnable but a war crime under the Geneva convention that prohibits the wanton killing of Livestock.
“We call on the Authorities to not only investigate this terror but to also punish the culprits and to be sure that incident like this will not happen again.
“Information available to us shows that the perpetrators must have been informed about the release of the Livestock from Benue Livestock Guards Custody to impose a double jeopardy on pastoralists lives and their assets.”
Meanwhile, police have also confirmed 27 persons died as a result of the Nasarawa air strike in the Doma community of the state.