Fulani herdsmen under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore have vowed to resist any move to evict them from the South-West.
The herdsmen say their rights to live and do business anywhere they chose is guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution.
Miyetti Allah also vowed to avenge the alleged attacks on and loss of herdsmen and their cattle, saying it would never tolerate any act of injustice on herders.
The group was reacting to the Ondo government’s decision to evict Fulani herdsmen from its forest reserves, Sunday Igboho’s anti-Fulani crusade in the South-West, and Biafra separatists’ anti-herdsmen attacks in the South-East.
“All those who travelled to the Benin Republic and others are coming back home,” Miyetti Allah national secretary Alhassan told Punch.
“All those saying they will bar foreign herders from entering Nigeria are just playing to the gallery because if they know the ECOWAS protocols, they would know they cannot chase them away.
“That is why the position of the Bauchi State Governor (Bala Mohammed who said Fulani herdsmen have right to carry Ak-47 rifles for self-defence) is the true position.
“You have no right to evict anybody from any part of the country.
“Our number has increased recently because of the tension in Ghana and Benin Republic. The Benin Republic ones have integrated with the Yoruba in such a way that they speak the language. They were initially living in the South-West, and they are coming back,” he said.
Saleh described the eviction notice to herders as propaganda, adding that “innocent” herders were becoming the casualties.
“They expected a reaction from us, maybe by way of attacking other ethnic nationalities,” he said.
“But that is wrong because the herders they are attacking are the innocent herders. Are the criminals representing anybody? They are doing their criminal enterprise. Our pain is that the people who are supposed to know are pretending as if they don’t know.”
Saleh also asked governors to provide land for ranching for the herders as a solution to the ongoing crisis, adding that herders’ eviction would only lead to wider consequences.
Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum has called on herdsmen feeling unsafe in the southern region of the country to relocate to the North.