On Sunday, 24 January 2021, a trending video on Twitter claimed that the Nigerian Government has offered the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) – an association of Fulani herdsmen – N100 billion to stop the killings and kidnappings between herders and farmers in the country.
The video, a report by Roots TV, was first shared by the publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu, on his Twitter page early Sunday morning.
The video was later reshared by a popular Twitter influencer, Kelvin Odanz (@MrOdanz) with the caption: ‘’The Nigerian Government is offering herdsmen N100 Billion so they can stop kidnapping and other criminal activities. N100 Billion Naira to a group that has kidnapped, killed and destroyed Livelihoods. Incredible’’
Fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) can verify that the trending video posted by Mr. Kelvin and Dele Momodu is not recent. Our fact-checkers traced the video to Roots TV Nigeria’s YouTube Channel and found out that it was posted on May 14, 2019.
Also, the Presidency in various instances has debunked the claim that it offered the sum of N100 billion to MACBAN to bring an end to the kidnapping in the country as this is not the first time this claim will trend in the media in Nigeria.
On May 10, 2019, the exact claim went viral across social media and the mainstream media necessitating the Federal Government to debunk the news. The Special Adviser to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, during an interview with Channels Television on May 10, 2019, also debunked the claim.
In an interview with reporters in May 2019, the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu said N100 billion was never paid to herdsmen or the association by the Federal Government. A report filed by Roots TV, the same media house whose original video is trending now can be found on YouTube.
In its reaction to the claim, the cattle breeders association had said that it indeed demanded N100 billion from the FG some years ago but not from the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
MACBAN’s national secretary, Saleh Alhassan told Punch in May 2019 that the money demanded by his association at that time was not for amnesty but for the construction of ranches to ease their members’ businesses.
“That is a mischievous statement (the claim). Do they pay money like that? Have they ever paid any money like that? That N100bn has been on the table for mini-ranches since 2014 when (former) President Goodluck Jonathan was trying to address the lingering crisis between farmers and herders.’’
Mr. Saleh went further to say the part of that money was used by state governors under the committee chaired by the then Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam. ‘’But I don’t think the bulk of the money has reached the pastoralists, the herders.’’
Why the video resurfaced
There is an ongoing media confrontation between the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and the Federal Government of Nigeria over a 7-day quit notice issued by the Governor to unlicensed herders. The Governor had asked the herders to vacate forest reserves in the state to curb the spate of kidnappings in Ondo State, allegedly committed by criminals hiding in the forest.
Tracing the root of the N100 Billion
In 2014, the Federal Government under former President Goodluck Jonathan set up a Committee on Grazing Reserves under the Chairmanship of the former Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam.
The committee went on to recommend that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provide N100 billion seed funds to assist states in establishing mini modern ranches across the federation.
Suswam, while briefing State House correspondents on October 26, 2014, after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, disclosed the plan by FG.
Also, in September 2019, the current Government under President Muhammadu Buhari resuscitated that plan at the height of the farmer/herder conflict across the Middlebelt area of Nigeria after it adopted National Livestock Transformation Plan. The Government said the plan was not targeted at only cattle but the entire animal husbandry sector in the country. The plan was disclosed by the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, at the end of the National Economic Council meeting in Abuja.
Umahi said that under the plan, N100 billion will be spent with the federal government contributing 80 percent in grant, while states will contribute land, project implementation structure, personnel, and 20 percent cost of the project.
However, following the announcement, Nigerians on social media tagged the plan ‘RUGA Settlement plan’ leading to many citizens kicking against it and prompting the government to suspend its implementation.
The trending video with the claim the Federal Government offered N100 billion to Miyetti Allah to stop Killings and Kidnapping in the country is false and misleading.
The video is an old video from two years ago.
CDD is urging Nigerians to always verify the authenticity of stories before sharing them.
You can forward suspicious messages for verification via +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter @CDDWestAfrica
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