The Borno State Livestock Traders Association and the National Association of Butchers (NASB), on Friday, criticised five months ban on transportation of cattle by the Nigerian Army.
Alhaji Seina Buba, Chairman of the Borno State Cattle Market Management Committee told newsmen in Maiduguri that the ban had exposed many traders to untold hardship.
Buba said that the ban was contained in a letter written to its management by Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, former Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole.
He said: “This is to notify all cattle market to suspend transporting cattle from Borno councils, because of the ongoing “Operation Last Hold” aimed at weeding out remnant of boko haram.’’
The chairman noted that banning the association’s socio-economic activities had exposed its over 11,000 unemployed members to excruciating hardship.
“The means of livelihood of our members in the livestock industry is being threatened, with thousands of livestock dealers in Borno state out of job,” he said.
“The military told us that they are suspecting that some cows are being rustled by Boko Haram.
“But we told them that whoever comes with cattle in this market, has to spend three days until it satisfied all investigation before being issued a clearance letter by the committee.
“This was designed to checkmate all forms of nefarious activities in the cattle market.
“The military must not punish us because of baseless and perceive rumours. They should justify their claims by fishing out those involved in cow rustling,’’ Buba said.
Buba said that cattle traders were doing their legitimate business through the clearance of the state government and the Garrison Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole.
According to him, “Traders now get their cattle from Konduga, Jere and the Metropolis. Most cattle you see in this market were those from the neighbouring villages not more than 15 kilometres.
“The Chadian marketers told us that they have over 160,000 cows in the Gamborum Ngala border for the Sallah but due to the ban, they could not bring their animals to the state,” he said.
Buba decried that the prices of animals in the state had tripled due to the inability of traders to bring in their animals into the state.
He appealed to the military to reconsider the ban because of the Id-el- Kabir, where animals would be on high demands in the state.
Alhaji Muhammad Klia, Chairman Borno Livestock Traders Association, said that the decision of the army to ban transporters from bringing cows into Borno was unfair, owing to the growing demands of animals in the state.
Klia said that the union had since adopted proactive measures to checkmating cattle rustling activities and other criminal activities in the markets.
“We have our Civilian JTF, Police, Vigilante and even the military and other security operatives attached to provide civic protection in the market.
“If there is any form of nefarious activities as acclaimed by the military, they will be first to know,” he said.
He urged the military to reconsider the decision in the spirit of peace and prosperity of the state.
Idris Muhammad, an International livestock trader, said his business had crumbled due to the inability to transport his cattle and rams from Chad to Borno.
Muhammed said that during a period like this, he usually transported more than 170,000 rams and cattle into Nigeria but the ban had made it impossible.
Reacting, Col. Onyeama Nwachukwu, Deputy Director Army Public Relations, said that the people must know that Operation Lafiya Dole was working to promote socio-economic activities in the northeast and not the other way round.
Nwachukwu said: “What we did was to shut down some illegal cattle market where Boko Haram was selling rustled cows because proceeds from the sales were used to fund activities of the terrorist group.
“Nobody should think the military is here to stop anybody from doing business; we are promoting socio-economic development in the country.
“If anybody is telling you that we are shutting down their businesses that person is wrong. It should be the other way round.
“It is because we are here that they are able to do their businesses,’’ he said.