Who Is Sympathetic To Fulani Herdsmen?

Men march along the truck carrying the coffins of people killed by the Fulani herdsmen, in Makurdi, Nigeria January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Who is sympathetic to Fulani Herdsmen? Doesn’t that sound like a mischievous heading? As if the term ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ is now a synonym for evil. As if being sympathetic to their course is a thing to be ashamed of. As if standing with them is standing with witches, warlocks and those who commit the worst of evil. But that’s where we at right now in this country. That is the reality of our time. Years ago, about two decades, the Fulani Herdsmen were just cattle rearers of the Fulani descent. They loved wandering and their cattle, they loved life and even though they always carried guns and had skirmishes, they never constituted the sort of menace we are confronted with now.

Today, the term has changed. It used to be a term that reminded Nigerians of those hard working cattle rearers whose wandering helped the country’s meat-eating populace. Not anymore. At the mention of the term today we brace up for the latest bad news. It evokes fear, hate, disgust and no matter what the news is about, as long as a Herdsman is involved, he is, in the eyes of the majority, guilty. The Fulani herdsmen have stepped into lands on almost every part of Nigeria and everywhere they touched, they left a mark. In most cases, blood dripping on the farmlands, heads tossed over like hot pizza covered in watery pepper, knives tightly holding unto the heads of the victims for full effect, in that order, were their trademark.

The problem with this evil is not just that it is evil, but that it is tacitly being ignored by men who could effect a change. Men who know what to do to stop this evil pretend it is not big enough and go about their businesses. They don’t respond the same way to other show of evil by other Nigerians and people are watching and taking notes. Some Nigerians have been shot dead for showing their support to Donald Trump, some shot dead for just blocking the road of the Chief of Army Staff, some shot dead for simply engaging in a peaceful procession, and recently, after the Fulani Herdsmen attack that killed over 60 persons in Benue, some Nigerians were shot dead and many injured for simply protesting.

If people can be shot and killed for these minor things how come a set of people in Nigeria commit worse crimes and nothing, not even a conviction, is gotten by the law enforcers who considered the first set troublemakers? What’s worse? Simply protesting or butchering innocent people in their sleep? Anyone with the slightest doze of commonsense knows the answer. This has made the majority angry and typically, in this country, when we are angry we don’t mind how the subject of our anger is treated. The Fulani Herdsmen have had their cattle killed, their families killed, but because they’ve gone unpunished with so many atrocities, a death of a herdsman has become good music to our soul.

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We are gradually becoming the monsters we loathe. We don’t care about the stories that affect them anymore. Were they attacked? How many were killed? What really happened that took the lives of those Fulani in Mambila? We don’t care. That is one fruit of injustice our government allowed to grow. Now, everyone is eating from it. Some persons could have done well to prevent this from happening but they pretended nothing bad was happening. Some persons could have stopped the killings orchestrated by the Fulani Herdsmen but they looked the other way and chased the wind. Some persons, no matter how hard they tried to pretend, showed great sympathy to the Fulani madness that got us here. And these persons are highly placed.

President Muhammadu Buhari

About 17 years ago, precisely, October 10, 2000, the Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, General Muhammadu Buhari, visited the Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lam Adesina. The General was raging when he spoke the words:

“Your Excellency, our visit here is to discuss with you and your government our displeasure about the incident of clashes between two peoples. The Fulani cattle rearers and merchants are today being harassed, attacked and killed like in Saki. In the month of May, 2000, 68 bodies of Fulani cattle rearers were recovered and buried under the supervision and protection from a team of Mobile Police from Oyo State Command”.

“That some arrests were made by Oyo State Police Command in the massacre with their immediate release without court trial. This was said to have been ordered by Oyo State authorities and they were so released to their amazement. The release of the arrested suspects gave the clear impression that the authorities are backing and protecting them to continue the unjust and illegal killings of Fulani cattle rearers…”

He accused the governor of complicity in the attacks and the attempt to explain to the man and the people he came with didn’t solve anything. He left the premises angrily just like he came and was certain, even though he didn’t say it, that there was a deliberate attempt to reduce the population of the Fulani Herdsmen in Oyo State. You’d have expected an elder statesman to calm things down but not this elder statesman. Agbaakin Kehinde Olaosebikan, then Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Lam Adesina, describing what happened wrote:

“It was on 13 October 2000, when words went round that General Muhammadu Buhari was leading the Arewa team to the governor’s office to confront the state over alleged killings of Fulani cattle rearers in Saki, Oke Ogun Area of the state. Buhari did actually telephone the governor that he was leading a team to his office”.

“In less than 30 minutes after the general informed the governor of his visit, we noticed that the entire secretariat was already filled with lorry loads of our brothers from the North. This created some tension but we kept our calm. At about 2 p.m., Buhari arrived in a long convoy at the governor’s office in company of the former governor of Lagos State, General Buba Marwa, Alhaji Aliko Muhammed, Alhaji Abdulrazak and Alhaji Hassan. They all wore long faces. In fact, the anger in them was palpable as all pleasantries extended to them were ignored. “This is trouble” was the expression on the faces of all of us in the governor’s office”.

“Shortly afterwards, the state Director of State Security Service (SSS) and Commissioner of Police arrived. But their presence did not change anything particular on the fears that had already gripped majority of us. The two security chiefs did not come with any operatives, they came almost alone”.

“The meeting was called to order after Lam walked into the Executive Chambers. Introductions over, Buhari spoke on their mission to the governor’s office. Emitting fire, the general accused Lam and the government of Oyo State of complicity in the killing of over 68 Fulani people in Oke Ogun area and perversion of justice”

“According to the general, they therefore wanted immediate stoppage of the killings, justice and compensation to the Fulanis”.

“As weighty and indicting as Buhari’s allegations were, Lam remained unperturbed. He fired back with his own well coordinated arsenals”.

“Lam identified all the points raised by Buhari and simply asked the heads of the organizations directly involved to respond to the allegations”.
First to speak was the Commissioner of Police who debunked all the claims. Instead of the allegation that the natives were killing Fulanis, the commissioner said pointedly that the opposite was the case.

“The killing of the natives by the Fulanis was duly reported to the police and, of course, we can’t make arrest because, as soon as they kill, they migrate to other areas. Who are you going to arrest? That is the problem”. On the killing of Fulanis, which he said was as result of “piled up anger”, the commissioner disclosed that arrests had been made and the suspects were in police custody.

“Next was the Director of SSS, who equally debunked the allegations by Buhari. “The natives don’t have problem with the Fulanis who are resident but those who are coming in, they don’t care about anybody. They just go ahead and when they graze the natives farms, whoever cares to challenge them runs into trouble. You said 68 people were killed , and people driven away. I am not saying there were no killings but they cannot be more than five. The petition is on the harsh side, there is nothing like that.”

“Not done yet, Lam called in his Deputy, Barrister Iyiola Oladokun; his SSG, Chief Michael Koleoso, both from Oke Ogun, and the chairman of one of the affected local government areas, Mr Ademola Alalade. They stated the true position of things, corroborating the submissions of the security chiefs. At this point, all the tensions and apprehensions evaporated”

“Trust Lam any day, he must rub it in. He spoke for about 20 minutes and the generals were at the edge of their seats for the entire period. They were like chicken that had just been thoroughly beaten by the rain”

Lam said: “ Before I thank you for this visit, you have come to tell me something. I also want to tell you something and that something is to make an appeal. General Buhari has been a former Head of State, Brigadier Marwa has governed Lagos for some time and with credibility… so you are national leaders of this country. Even though, by accident of birth, you are from the North, you can be born anywhere; may be next time when I am coming to the world, I will be born in the North or the South-South”.

“My appeal will be that effort must be made to unite this country and that will be in the best interest of all Nigerians. I am appealing to the Arewa Consultative Forum, under which auspices our distinguished Nigerians are here; in recent times, they have been sending wrong signals to a number of us who believe in the unity and peace of Nigeria; you have been too critical of the efforts of the Federal Government. I am saying this because Nigeria, at this point, cannot afford to break and the words you northern leaders utter are very weighty, at the South here, we normally analyze them critically”.

“On all the allegations, he said: “From what they have written in the petition, this government is completely blameless because we don’t interfere either with the judiciary or with the police functions. I always preach peaceful co-existence in Oyo State and Nigeria as a whole. We are all Nigerians and that is what we have been preaching all along and we shall continue to be Nigerians , no matter the present or immediate problems which will be solved by the grace of Allah”

“I want to say also that we really have to appeal to our people, the itinerant Bororo people, that they should observe less aggression. It is not good , it is not right just coming from somewhere then you just pass through farm lands cultivated may be with the person’s life savings and then over night everything is gone. That is not right, even Allah does not approve of that”

“We even wonder when they talk about this people carrying dangerous weapons, I say do they really believe in Allah? When you just take life like that and go away! Are we not forbidden not to take human life? So I think General Buhari, General Marwa, you have to be educating them… It is my pleasure to inform you that at the Presidential Lodge, we have made some arrangements for refreshments so that before you go we can refresh together”.

“Buhari and his team did not wait for any refreshments. They came in angry and left bewildered”

That was in 2000. Lam Adesina tried so hard to give the General a schooling on how democracy and aggression works. Yes, they’ve been attacks on the herdsmen but most of these attacks have been in response to the aggression displayed by them. You don’t go about carrying arms, causing mayhem and slaughtering people and expect a pat in the back. Overnight, farmlands worth millions are grazed and destroyed with impunity only to meet a greater impunity and death when you confront the culprit. The people, like most humans when pushed to the wall, devise a defense mechanism to stay alive. That’s commonsense supported by Charles Darwin’s Naturalism.

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That’s what has been consistent in most of the retaliations and the President, who have called them Libyan and Senegalese Herdsmen has not seen enough reason to penalize Libyans and Senegalese herdsmen terrorising his people. He has absolved the Fulani Herdsmen of crimes even they admit they are responsible for. He may think he’s protecting his own but he will only end up in starting a cycle of aggression without end. The truth is, if he considers this a problem to that imaginary unity of Nigeria he often talks about, he’d have done something to get the people justice. He thinks there’s nothing wrong with what the Fulanis are doing and in most cases, instead of calling it a massacre, he uses the words ‘farmers-herdsmen-conflict’. Conflict? Bullshit!

What happened late December 2017 in Southern Kaduna is not a conflict but a massacre. What happened in Nimbo Enugu state is not a conflict but an ethnic cleansing. What happened in Delta State, that got the people protesting and blocking the roads, is not a conflict but a massacre. What happening in Ondo State is a massacre. What happened in Benue State is not a conflict. It is similar to what you get when a ten year old boy engage a 27 year old Professional Boxer in a fight. Though the boy may scratch the skin of the man he’d never be alive to celebrate the feat. It can’t be called a fight but an exercise of pain. It shouldn’t be a big deal for a President who thinks a bunch of guys hitting the chest of a soldier deserves death to demand something similar for people ruining lives and wrecking havoc. That is ironic. It is.

The President is a Fulani man and a hardcore tribalist. Not that loving your tribe is bad but ignoring the evil from your tribe is. Why would he do that? Why would an ethnic bigot do anything to harm his people? Why would the Grand Patron of the people constituting a threat to lives hold them ransom for anything? If this was by the IPOB or any other group the response would have been different. Some persons would have been shot dead and nothing will be done about it. How was it easy to call IPOB, who have not shot or killed anyone, a terrorist organization, but hard for Fulani Herdsmen who’ve have killed many Nigerians and destroyed many lands to be labelled Terrorist? How did we even make someone like that the President? The truth is, if we want President Buhari to act we may have to change the name of these herdsmen to Biafran herdsmen. Or Shiite Muslim Herdsmen.

The Inspector General Of Police: Ibrahim Idris

After the Fulani Herdsmen attack that killed over 60 persons in Benue State, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, called it ‘Communal Clashes‘. Three years ago, I lived in Benue State and I don’t recall any community shared with Fulani Herdsmen. For a communal clash to happen, communities have to first exist. An interview granted the BBC by the spokesperson for the Miyetti Allah Association quickly exposed the man. According to the spokesman, the group were only retaliating the killing of 1000 cows by the people of Benue. They were simply doing justice. We are used to this usual bragging by those who felt they are untouchable, those whose grand patron is the President of Nigeria. We are seeing madness as normal now.

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How do you kill human beings because a thousand cattle was killed? Why would anyone go on air to utter such sacrilege without fear? No remorse. No show of humanity. No fear of arrest by the authorities. Just defiance. And why would the Inspector General of Police try to lie to the people? Why did he try to make a defense for people who are not afraid to admit the crime they committed? Is he afraid of the President who is their grand patron? Is he a Fulani who tacitly supports the killing of other lesser Nigerians? Last year, the same thing happened in Agatu and Vandakya, Benue State and the man did the same thing. On so many occasions calls were made for the arrest of the Miyatti Allah leader but nothing was done about it. Nothing. The group has told Benue State to alter the grazing law against them for peace to reign yet no arrest. For peace to reign. Just imagine that! No arrest still.

You wonder who ordered the firing of live ammunitions on angry Benue youths protesting against the silence? Who ordered the Nigerian police to stop Charly Boy by all means necessary? Who tacitly threatened 2Face Idibia to shun any idea of protesting bad governance? The bulk stops on your table, Sir. It’s obvious where his heart lies. It is not with his country but with the Fulani Herdsmen, the world’s 4th most dangerous terrorist group. The President sent the man to restore law and order and that itself is complicated. Law and Order? Like Lam Adesina said in that meeting with Buhari, the Herdsmen are wanderers and leave the place once they strike, so what exactly is he going to restore? Obviously, the protests that will ensue. Asking the IG to move to Benue is nothing if he and the one sending him don’t have the will. That is simply a play to the gallery. Nobody’s fooled.

Men of The Nigerian Army

Residents in Plateau reported how they were lured into a trap by men of the Nigerian Army. They were under attack and some soldiers approached them for help. They took them to a safe house where they were supposed to be safe from any attack by the Fulani Herdsmen. They didn’t know they were been taken to the slaughterhouse. As reported by the survivors of that attack, the soldiers were seen making calls prior to the attack and when the Fulani Herdsmen came they were nowhere to be found. They had disappeared and none showed up in the course of the massacre. The Nigerian Army have not investigated these reports and even if they’ve done that, no one knows why that happened.

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Why lure people from their homes to a safehouse turned slaughterhouse if you have no ill intention? Who did this? Is it just few soldiers in the military or it is a well designed plan to achieve a goal? The same story was told when herdsmen attacked Southern Kaduna on the eve of Christmas in 2016. The locals claimed there was an evident support by the military and nothing was done to quell that narrative. No arrest was made. No team was instituted to get to the root of the matter. When the attack took place in Nimbo, Enugu State, the same thing played out. The soldiers were nowhere to be found but when the people tried to retaliate, they came to the rescue of the Herdsmen and arrested the men.

Why didn’t the military men prevent it from happening in the first place? Why does it seem like our soldiers are always available after the attacks had happened but absent during the attacks? Do we pretend that something is not fishy? Certainly some persons in the military are compromised and until they are fished out and the system brought down and replaced, this selective show of concern to violence will not stop. Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader, insulted Nigeria and Nigerians before he and his group was attacked with force. He only insulted. He never used any weapon or killed anyone but the military men, in the name of Operation Python Dance, wrecked havoc in the east and his home.

Why are we not using the same force here? Why do men of the Nigerian military attack a mosquito with sledgehammer but put the terrifying viper in a safehouse? If IPOB tried to destroy the name Nigeria the Fulani Herdsmen destroyed the people of Nigeria. If we weigh the former and the latter only a schizophrenic will say the former weighs more. Why not give the herdsmen the IPOB treatment? They are obviously sympathetic.

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Mallam Nasir El-Rufai

In 2012, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, now the Governor of Kaduna State, tweeted that whoever kills a Fulani owes a debt repayable one day. It can take a million years but it must be paid to the fullest. He gave the impression that he wouldn’t forget and his idea of repayment, like every idea of vengeance, is not in accordance with the law. He was tacitly telling the government of the time that any sin committed against the Fulani tribe must be punished tomorrow, that the Fulani will pursue, overcome and recover all. So, in 2016, not many were surprised when he admitted to paying Fulani Herdsmen to prevent further attacks.

They were settled with cash for their cattles killed. He didn’t speak of settlement for the family and property of the villages they razed. It was a peace process with a biased angle from the very start. Some could argue that it is another funding of the Jihad Uthman Dan Fodio brought to Northern Nigeria. In Kaduna State, the North and South are at war. It didn’t start with El-Rufai but he has done little to quell the crisis. While the North are Muslims, the South are Christians. They may share one language in Hausa but their actions towards each other have always been demonic. A son or daughter could be disowned by the family for marrying someone of the other region.

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When two years ago, on Christmas eve, the South was struck by gun wielded men, the governor seem to be exercising that bias both regions shared. No conviction was reached and the security outfits didn’t parade the killers either. The people were left to fend for themselves. At the beginning of this year, another team struck again. If that was to celebrate the anniversary, though belated, no one knows. El-Rufai finds it easy to arrest bloggers who antagonise his actions than antagonising those actions he’s been called out for. Like every other Nigerian politician in power, he bends and breaks the rules to correct the abnormality the blogger or attacker suffers from. But the records are there. Who paid herdsmen to stop attacking? Who did nothing but escalated the Southern and Northern Kaduna violence? Who tweeted that anyone who kills a Fulani owes a debt that must be paid in the future? He was not even arrested for that tweet but today criticism irks his soul so hard into tweaking the law. That is man for you.

Governors Of Affected States

We may not think so but Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and most Nigerian governors are sympathetic to the Fulani Herdsmen. They have shown that their ambition is more important than the life of their people. There is a difference between choosing to be helpless and being helpless. They choose to be helpless but give the impression that they are helpless. This is typical of Nigerian governors and politicians with ambition. They don’t mind sacrificing their people for a position tomorrow. Irrespective of the power and stupendous amount they receive as Governors they try to climb to the lather by licking ass.

Why would you keep quiet when your people are been killed by Fulani Herdsmen? Why would anyone with the slightest idea of what leadership really means be quiet when human beings are killed on the land they supervise? How was the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, able to curtail the herdsmen madness? When Fayose did his thing he was called a mad man by those who choose not to understand the content of the document that was signed into law. He was called an enemy of the Fulani and a hater of the herdsmen but he didn’t flinch.

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He set up the vigilante team to handle illegal grazing and just recently, a court in Ekiti sent their first victims to prison. He didn’t have to wait for any federal might to do his thing. He didn’t wait for the President to issue a statement that will never come. He did what he had to do because, no matter how troublesome he is, he understood that no human should have such power. No human have the license to kill and ruin others lives for their own good. He has an ambition. He dreams to be the President or Vice President of this country some day but he’s not licking ass like others are doing. When the herdsmen struck Nimbo, the Enugu state governor, shed tears and if that was not discouraging enough, he was seen laughing and smiling with the patron of the herdsmen at the Villa.

Just like Ortom of Benue, he declared days of mourning and prayers. The stupidity here should be studied. Your people were killed and you declared prayers. Nothing was done to deal with the killers like Fayose did. These men know what to do but they believe they must lick ass today because their tomorrow is at stake. They must play with the lives of their people because they want more power and more money. Maybe their sins have made them cowards. Maybe the things they did will be used against those who rebel(like Fayose) once they leave power. It doesn’t matter what it is but the truth is, they are sympathetic to the Fulani Herdsmen. The herdsmen who now represent murder, death, rape and destruction. The Fulani herdsmen who have the President as their Grand Patron.

About Poet 112 Articles
I am Rey Alaetuo, a conscious Poet and health care professional living in Lagos, Nigeria. I've written three collection of Poems, I am an exponent of humanism and a vigilant Poet. I am deeply interested in the propagation of positive human values and behaviour.

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