The Ohanaeze Ndigbo socio-cultural group has railed against reported plans by the Federal Government to pay N100 billion to herdsmen to stop kidnappings and killings across the country.
Reports of the payment rent the air following a meeting held between a Federal Government delegation and leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State.
Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau led the Federal Government delegation to the meeting which reportedly lasted more than five hours.
The MACBAN leaders were said to have demanded N160 billion but agreed to N100 billion proposed by the Federal Government after intense negotiations.
Although he did not disclose if discussions about payment held, Dambazau told newsmen that the meeting was one of the steps taken to tackle insecurity and clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
“That is the main reason we have come to Kebbi State to dialogue with leaders of herdsmen as part of the process,” the former Chief of Army Staff said.
However, Ohanaeze said that such payment could never be in the interest of the country since it was shrouded in secrecy.
The group’s spokesman, Prince Uche Achiokpaga, said, “Nigerians are watching with dismay and utter disbelief, the story making the rounds of government parley with Miyetti Allah.
“More disturbing is the fact that colossal sums of money (demanded) are said to be promised to them to keep the peace.
“The most devastating aspect of this development is the complete and utter lack of transparency, accountability and respect for the laws of the land.
“Who budgeted this money being doled out? What is the subhead in the budget? Who approved it? What similar arrangements were made for armless IPOB, South-South freedom fighters and murdered Middle Belters?
“Have we reached a situation where we have to purchase our peace from terrorists? What about the illegal mining going on in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and other neighbouring states?
“Has anyone been arrested or are we negotiating with them? Why is EFCC looking the other way. Do you have immunity in Nigeria if you come from certain parts of the country?
“Ohanaeze is appalled at these recent developments and calls for complete transparency.”
Reacting to the reported payment, Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu said that nothing could be farther from the truth.
He said, “There was nothing like that. That information you got was social media information.
“It has nothing to do… there was no any discussion to that effect.
“The source of the information, nobody knows; and certainly it is not from government.
“It is somebody’s imagination that just came up to distract attention.”