Stop Demonizing Fulani Herdsmen In Shitholes

By Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH, Friday, January 19, 2018)

“This is Reality Radio Corporation, 66.6FM, Abuja. My name is Moore Paine. Here are the news highlights: Herdsmen killed 756 in two years under Jonathan – Presidency; Taraba death toll rises to 60; FG has not done enough for herdsmen – Audu Ogbe; Soyinka blasts Buhari over Benue killings; I’ll protect Ekiti from herdsmen – Fayose; Prevail on Buhari to stop herdsmen attacks, Benue women tell Aisha; Council of States meets today in Abuja; Buhari replaces sacked NIA DG with northerner. Now, the news in full…”

“Switch off that stupid news, hadjia, I want to concentrate.”

“Why, Your Excellency? You need to listen to news. By so doing, you would know the yearnings of the people and the mind of the opposition.”

“Menini! What do I need to know the mind of the opposition for, hadjia? Was the opposition not there when I convincingly won the general election? Will people ever stop yearning? Let me tell you what you don’t know, the more you keep out of politics and concentrate on taking care of me and running the affairs of the other room, the better for you. You know I’m yet to forgive you for the interview you granted on the state of the villa’s hospital and the one in which you said I have been hijacked by some party people. If you were not dabbling into politics, you would have discovered the buying and riding of motorbikes under your nose. Eh, don’t tempt me to marry another wife, kajiko; I’m may be an old general, but I’m still strong, you know.”

“I don’t mean to disobey your Excellency. It is just that I hear a lot of disturbing news daily.”

“You hear disturbing news daily, kwo? And you go hysterical, ba? I have been hearing disturbing news in this country since 1960. Hadjia, please, I don’t want to hear any disturbing news this morning. I want to read some documents ahead of the Council of State meeting coming up today. I learnt the Ekiti roughneck and the Rivers ruffian will lead their fellow troublemakers to the meeting; I don’t want to be caught unawares on any issue, please. Professor has broken down all the issues in this document I’m reading – foreign reserve, anti-corruption war, fuel scarcity, and the two-fighting in Benue. I’m just lucky to have the Prof, you know. I think he is a real gentleman; no political ambition, only boko and turenchi.

“I think he’s a godly man, too. Your Excellency, check your time, it’s time for the meeting. I learnt the man from Ekiti has arrived and that he’s dressed in full hunter’s regalia replete with charms, cowries and horns.”

“That boy must be on drugs. I’ve prepared a place for him in Gashua, where he will go and continue his hooliganism, after his tenure. Let me go and attend the meeting.”

(National anthem and pledge rendition)

“So help us God, says the last line of our national pledge. I pray that the Lord will help our great country, Nigeria. Your Excellency and the Commander-in-Chief, fellow labourers in the vineyard called Nigeria, permit me, in my capacity as the deputy to the C-i-C, to declare this meeting open while the secretary to the government gives us what is on the agenda.”

“No, no, no, no! With due respect to you Prof, sir, there shouldn’t be any other thing on the agenda than the Benue pogrom. We shouldn’t sit down here as if all is well with this country, the nation is on fire and we are here seated in opulence, speaking grammar. The blood of the people killed in Benue and in other states is on our hands. Nitemi o, I want to make heaven when I die, because all of us will eventually die and go and meet our creator. I am from Ekiti, where we don’t fear to say our mind. Herdsmen have taken over the country, and there’s a deafening silence from the Ass-o-Rock because Fulani are involved, abi? Did IPOB kill anybody before it was declared a terrorist organization? The government must declare herdsmen terrorists, shikena.”

“Uhm, uhmm! Let me address the issues raised by the young man from Ekiti. I can see that you’ve turned criticizing my administration into a pastime. Well, that’s your own cup of tea. You said I should declare herdsmen terrorists, ba? May I ask you, what for?

“For turning Nigeria into suya fields, sir.”

(Interruption) “Eh! Look here, Mr Ekiti or what do they call you; you can’t be talking to His Excellency like that! Where do you think you are? Ado garage? Where were you when His Excellency was a military Head of State? Can you say this before His Excellency in 1983? Nna, I am from the state where we honor people with statues. Please, respect yourself o…”

(Cuts in) “So, thou shall not make for yourself a graven image is not in your bible, Governor Aaron? Where’re you when I was in power between 2003 and 2006?

“Rivers want to talk o; I’ve been pressing the buzzer and raising my hand since, nobody called me o. I want to talk o. Don’t wicked me o.”

“I was still talking, Mr Rivers, before the rude interruption from Ekiti. I may not know my age, but I know I’m old enough to be his father. Ekiti said I should declare herdsmen terrorists, ba? Me, who is not even a Christian, know what Jesus Christ said about the lost sheep. He said you should leave your 99 sheep and go in search of the one that is missing. Isn’t that so? If people steal herdsmen’s cows and herdsmen are looking for them, what’s terrorism in that? I think you should go back and take more bible lessons from your wife. Mr Rivers, you can now talk.”

“Your Excellency, I only wish to know why you sent soldiers on python dance in the South-East where nobody was killed, and you sent police to Benue despite the killings. Two, why haven’t you visited Benue? And what’s the response of Nigeria to the shithole labeling by President Trump?

“Thank you, the man from Rivers. You’re unusually calm today; it appears it is the Transporter that you hate, not me. I shall kill a whole cow and celebrate when the two of you decide to bury the hatchet, otherwise, I will label the two of you terrorists (laughs). Ehm, I cannot allow an inch of the territory the British bequeathed to us to secede. The General from the rocky community was wrong to allow Bakassi to go. If any part of the country talks about secession, herdsmen will go there or the military will go and dance disco there. You know disco? That dance that you will be whistling and shaking you head and jumping up and down like you’re dancing to Dan Maraya Jos. Don’t you know secession is a criminal offence? When people die, more people can be born. But when a territory is taken, it cannot be retrieved. Calabar people know better. Your second question; are you not an African? Does African tradition permit parents to see the corpses of their children? I’m the father of the nation. You want me to go and see the corpses of my children? I wish Bourdillon was at this meeting. He would have told you that South-West traditional rulers don’t see corpses.

“About President Trump describing African countries as shitholes; that means that President Trump has a plan for African shit. Maybe America wants to manufacture something with our shit ni. You see, this is one of the democratic dividends of our government. Did any American president talk about Nigerian shit before? I shall direct the Ministry of Information to tell Nigerians to increase their shitting because it will soon turn our economy around. You’re raising your hand, the man from the Confluence State, what do you have to say?”

“Your Excellency, I crave your indulgence to know when you’re graciously going to release the next bailout, sir.”

“Immediately after this meeting.”

“Ah!! After this very meeting!? Your Excellency, let’s declare this meeting closed with immediate effect, sir!

Chorus: Yeeeessssooooo!!!

“Everybody is laughing now o. Even our man from Ekiti is laughing, too. He’ll say in the papers tomorrow, ‘Bailout is my right’. Thank your star this is not a military regime.”

“God bless Nigeria.”

“Sai da safe.”

•Odesola wrote in from the US via [email protected]

Fulani Herdsmen: OAU Campus Editors Condemn Killing Of Nigerians

By Sodiq Lawal

The National Association of Nigerian Campus Editors, NANCE, Obafemi Awolowo University branch, has condemned the killing of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen in Benue State and other parts of the country.

This was disclosed in a press statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the association, Mr Adejumo Kabir, and made available to our correspondent on Tuesday.

According to the release, “It is important to note that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and the inability of the Federal Government to curb these killings is a slap on democracy. The Fulani herdsmen disturbing the peace of the nation are not different from Boko Haram and if the Federal Government can declare IPOB as terrorists, the herdsmen are worse.”

“The last Christmas was not merry for many Nigerians due to fuel scarcity and the new year was greeted by Fulani herdsmen. We are sure that the president is not sick and should not really be affected psychological by the accident of his son. If at all the president is ill, the entire presidency cannot be deaf and blind at the same time to the mass genocide against innocent citizens in Benue particular and other states”

“The killing has gone haywire that you can only have right to your life in these states when you dress like cattle”

“The Federal Government needs to set laws equitable for Nigerians and take adequate sanction on dangerous Fulani Herdsmen that trespass into farm land of others. Again, the Federal Government has failed to set up touching courses with satisfactory remuneration to families of victims of herdsmen killing”

“We requests that Government must set up open farms and make provision(s) for the wellbeing of citizens as farming remain one of the key sectors to concentrate on. Without Government mediation, the killing of innocent citizens will keep occurring and then will make the country a good example of ‘A lost paradise.”

Ondo Plans Stringent Measures On Herdsmen Menace

Ondo State governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, has declared that his administration will apply force to arrest the menace of Fulani herdsmen in the state.

This was said by the Government in Akure on Sunday, during an event to commemorate the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

“We have been using security agencies to engage the herdsmen to carry out their business peacefully but when engagement fails, we will use force. We will confront the herdsmen with all we have,” the governor said.

He vowed that his administration will do everything to protect the people of the state, adding that all the security agencies have been put on red alert to monitor the activities of herdsmen.
He condemned the recurrent clashes between farmers and herdsmen across the country, adding that his government will ensure such does not occur in the state.

“I must not fail to make a statement on the unfortunate recurrence of clashes between the farmers and pastoralists otherwise known as herdsmen. Our state has had her share of the crisis but not on the horrendous scale whose odious effect continues to reverberate throughout the country. Our Administration is taking proactive steps to ensure that this obnoxious phenomenon is nipped in the bud,” he said.

While encouraging those who want to visit the state to come, he warned that those coming to perpetrate crime under should avoid the state or face fire. The governor noted that farmers in the state have suffered crop losses on account of the activities of herdsmen and their livestock, a trend his administration is minded to stop.

Mr. Akeredolu condemned the repeated attacks on the farmland of Mr. Olu Falae, former Secretary to Government of Federation, by the Fulani herdsmen.

“We will not tolerate any act of brigandage. We will defend the right of our people to engage farming without let of any hindrance of any sort. We will sanction with impassioned severity any acts which seek to tilt the balance of harmonious coexistence in the state towards anarchy. The full weight of the law will be brought to bear on criminal elements” the governor vowed,” said the governor.

He urged farmers in the state to go about their business and ensure they report suspicious movements in their areas to security agencies.

Ikpeazu Rejects Cattle Colony Plan For Herdsmen In Abia

Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has rejected plans by the federal government to establish “cattle colonies” for Fulani Herdsmen and their cows in Abia State saying that the state will not cede any part of its territory to Fulani herdsman as cattle colony.
According to a press release issued by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary Mr Enyinnaya Appolos, governor Ikpeazu has indicated that Abia state will not accept that any of its land will be used to establish cattle colonies for herdsmen.

“We reject such plan . We don’t have enough land for our agricultural activities and our people want more land. “Giving away any part of Abia land as a colony to herdsmen, wherever they may be from, will be most unjust and unfair treatment to Abia State and her people who are largely farmers.

He added that “such alien land occupation will also cause unrest and crisis that may grow beyond what we can handle when it happens, so the best thing I think we should do is to reject such plans so that those behind it will know that Abia State is not a party to it.”, the press release concluded.

The Benue Killings: Matters Arising By Dan Agbese

There has been a steady outpouring of grief, anger and condemnation in Benue State over the latest killings by Fulani herdsmen in Guma and Logo local government areas. For tens of families in those areas, the new year did not bring joy and happiness. It brought death, grief and loss. Official figures of the dead? 71 men, women and children who had no quarrel with these herdsmen and in no way provoked them into turning them into mere disembodied statistics.
I offer the state governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, my condolence. Their death diminishes all of us who are indigenes of the state. It is right for all those who come from that sad state to express our feelings over the attempts by the herdsmen to turn Benue, and indeed, three other states in the Middle Belt zone into killing fields. It is unacceptable. We are right to say so loud and clear.

Something appears to be stirring post these senseless killings. The minders of our state appear to have finally woken up to the real security challenges of enemies without borders menacing our state. The reaction this time is different from the indifference shown by the authorities when the herdsmen, not once but several times and with impunity, levelled several villages in Agatu Local Government Area, also in the state, in 2015 and 2016. We still do not know how many were killed in those attacks. Let us not pretend that the minders of our state failed to rise up to that challenge then. Guma and Logo are sad reminders of a simple fact: evil earns its capacity to spread when it is treated like a minor boil on the nose of the unfortunate.

Still, I welcome the outpouring of anger and condemnation by our big men. I can see that the reaction to such incidents has moved from the politically correct template of mere condemnation couched in jaded words by the important people in both the state and the nation at large into what I see as perhaps a move to address this growing problem and free the state and the nation from being hostages to these mindless killings and killers.

On October 30 last year, the former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, released bone chilling statistics on the killings and the destruction by the Fulani herdsmen in four states – Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Benue – in 2016. In only one year, according to the general, Fulani herdsmen killed 2,500 people and displaced 62,000 people in the four states. The states lost $13.7 billion and 47 per reduction in their internally generated revenue.

Since leaving office in a blaze of glory in 1999, Abubakar has become a tireless ambassador for peace in and outside the country. In releasing the statistics, he warned that the killings were spreading beyond the four states. What he did, and rightly so, was to confront the Nigerian state with the fact that its lethargy would make matters worse, much worse, and urged it to wake up. It seems to me that his timely warning appears to have been ignored. The consequence is that the killings are going on and have spread to Adamawa, Taraba and even Imo states.

Abubakar described these killings as clashes. In my reaction to his timely warning in my column for this newspaper, titled: Fulani herdsmen? The grim statistics, I pointed out that the killings did not and do not result from clashes between the herdsmen and the villagers because “there is no evidence that those attacked ever faced the attackers or that they had a chance to fight back. These attacks and killings are unprovoked and the attackers choose where and when to attack.” I also pointed out that “The real shock is not that these killings, maiming and displacements go on with impunity but that the federal government seems to be doing Rip Van Winkle in the face this critical national challenge.”

In these sad moments, it is naïve not to expect our people who believe they must be heard to bottle their emotions. A crisis is easy to be exploited and manipulated for political gains. It is in the nature of human societies. We must be careful not to reap such bountiful political harvests at the expense of the people. But make no mistake: when the emotions are spent and the dead are buried, the big people would once more padlock their lips and remain blind to, and silent on, issues that agitate us. Guma and Logo would recede into our collective memories overflowing with the sad victims of similar incidents in and outside the state.

Those who are calling on the president to resign are merely riding the tide of public emotion. The president has nothing to gain from the killings in Benue and other states. It is not right or fair to accuse him of inaction because he, like the herdsmen, is a Fulani. The tribalisation of a crisis such as this merely beclouds of our thinking and our sense of fairness and proportion. Let us face the fact and the fact is that the primary responsibility for the security of the state and its people lies squarely on the shoulders of Ortom, the state governor. Security is the number constitutional duty placed on the shoulders of the president and the state governors.

Consider the ham-handed official police reaction to the killings in Guma and Logo in early January. They might have been forgotten if the killers had not returned a few days later to Logo. The inspector general of police attributed the first wave of killings to communal clashes in those areas. I think he misadvised himself and his statement in the heat of the crisis was equally callous and ill-timed. I can find no where in the laws of our land where the police are authorised to treat communal crises with insouciance or levity. Perhaps, this mind set encouraged the killers to return.

Why did the state and the police fail to rise up to the immediate challenges of securing the affected local government areas? Interestingly, the Benue State police command informed the public they had arrested seven of the herdsmen involved in the new year attacks. Were they Tiv men in herdsmen’s clothing? It is such a great pity that the police chose to be mealy-mouthed about this grave problem.

The current killings throw up once more one of the fundamental problems with the operation of our military federalism. As horrendous as the Benue killings are, they are in no way worse than those in Borno and Yobe since 2009. Or worse than those in Adamawa and Plateau states. Whether they are perpetrated by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen or hired killers, these killings point to an uncomfortable but inescapable fact: our security system has failed us. This is not really about Benue. It is about the inability of the Nigerian state and the constituent units of the federation to make us safe in our own country. No one should take this lightly because the challenges posed by these pockets of crises are nasty and real; intractable even.

We need to take two urgent steps in this regard. The first is to take another look at the nature and the practice of our security system. Security is not entirely the responsibility of the Federal Government. It is a shared responsibility between it and the state governments. The states cannot effectively discharge this responsibility with our current single federal police force. Experience has amply demonstrated that it is not working or working satisfactorily. It argues for a state police.

Despite the generous security votes for which they are accountable to no one, the state governors do not feel sufficiently responsible for security in their various domains where most of them choose to enjoy privileges without responsibilities; what the late Churchill called the province of harlots. They throw it back on the Federal Government. In their failure they try to score cheap political points by making the president the scapegoat every time there is a security breach resulting in death and destruction.

I am afraid this would not wash. So, the second point is to hold the state governors primarily and unequivocally responsible for security in their domains. Their failure to do what they ought to do with their security votes and the security outfits available to them to make their states and their people fully secure and protected should attract constitutional sanctions. The Nigerian state ought not be complicit, by default, in the cheapening of the lives of its citizens. No band of killers can ever boast of the security arsenal in the custody of the Nigerian state.
Why do we feel so helpless?

Benue Massacre: Court Remands 7 Fulani Herdsmen In Prison

Seven Fulani herdsmen who were arrested in connection with the New Year attack on five communities of Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue State have been remanded in prison by a Makurdi Chief Magistrate Court.

Six of the accused persons were arraigned on charges bordering on criminal conspiracy, mischief by fire, anti open grazing, causing crevices hurt with dangerous weapons and culpable homicide.

The six (6) persons include, Ibrahim Sale, Jubril Adamu, Ibrahim Abubakar, Magaji Yau, Useni Bala, Sabi Yau while Ibrahim Mallam was arraigned for grazing on Governor Samuel Ortom’s rice farm located on Naka road, Makurdi. Two others were said to be at large.

The accused persons are being charged for culpable homicide, criminal conspiracy, mischief by fire, grievous hurt and violation of the prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.

The accused were also arraigned for openly rearing their cows within farmlands at Akor village in Guma Local Government Area thus contravening section 97, 329, 333 and 222 of the penal code law of Benue State and section 19(2)(3) of the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law of Benue State 2017.

According to First Information Report, FIR six (6) of the Fulani herdsmen were accused of killing over 16 persons and injuring several others as well as destroying houses, crops and burning down many houses that are yet to be valued in monetary terms.

“On 2nd January, 2017 at about 05.00 hours, one Mganda came to police station in Garibaldi, Guma Local government area and reported that on the same day, a group of herdsmen who were rearing their cows in Akor village, attacked the area shooting sporadically and in the process killed over 16 persons,” the FIR stated.

When the case was mention, no plea was taken for want of jurisdiction, the prosecution counsel, ASP Edward Imoh just asked for adjournment to another date for further investigation to be carried out.

Counsel to the defendants, Al Mustapha Elegu did not oppose the application.

The presiding, Chief Magistrate Isaac Ajim who told the accused that the offense committed by them was grievous, ordered that they be remanded at the Federal Medium Prisons and adjourned the case to 5th March, 2018.

Unongo Calls Atiku to Caution Fulani Herdsmen, Calls Him Chief Financier

The Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Paul Unongo, has called on former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to caution Fulani herdsmen on the gory spate of violent killings linked to herdsmen around the nation.

Unogo said this when he accused the former Vice President of being the chief financier and most influential member of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, the apex body of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.

However, the former Vice President said that although he is a Fulani, he was not a member of the Miyetti Allah.

Unogo however supported his claims saying in a media interview that the former Vice President told him (Unogo) personally that he was an influential member of the association.

Unogo said “I am aware that the most powerful person in Miyetti Allah is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who wants to be the next president. If they are fighting for power and Atiku wants to create problems for Buhari, I don’t know. There are so many possibilities.

“The most powerful person who finances the Miyetti Allah is Abubakar Atiku and he is a prince of the Tiv Court. The Tiv gave him a traditional title, meaning ‘the biggest shade of the Tiv people’.
“This implies that the Tiv people should be able to run to Atiku who will protect them.

This is the man who heads Miyetti Allah and is the greatest financier of this organisation. He has more cattle than anybody in Miyetti Allah.

“It is an establishment of the big people, a very rich group of Nigerians and they pack small boys to take their cattle all over the place and then buy all these arms to give herdsmen to go and kill people, and the government is doing nothing.”

Osinbajo, Dogara, Others Cautioned Over Killing Of Christians

The Youth Wing of Christians Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) has expressed disappointment with Christian political office holders in the country over their continuous silence on mass killings of Christians across the country in what it described as “organised operations by Fulani herdsmen”.

In a two-page communiqué issued yesterday in Yola after a six-hour emergency meeting of the northeast officials of the group, National President of YOWICAN, David Kadzai, reminded Christian political office holders that they occupy these offices not on their personal merits, but because of the religion they practice.

He stated that even when the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar lll, openly stated that the killer herdsmen are foreigners, the speaker, the Vice President and others did not direct the security agents concerned to fish them out.

“The police only arrest suspects when farmers attack herdsmen in a reprisal attack, but when Fulani herdsmen kill hundreds of Christians, the police suddenly cannot get suspects.”

He warned that if the federal government continues to give support to Fulani herdsmen by not taking the needed action to cage their blood thirst, the country may be moving towards anarchy in the nearest future.

 

Fresh Fulani Herdsmen Attack Leaves Three Dead

At least three people have died as a result of a fresh attack orchestrated by Fulani Herdsmen in Okpanam Community near Asaba.

The incident, which occurred on Thursday night at farmlands of the victims, has triggered fear in the community.

It was gathered that the victims were attacked by the herdsmen who were said to have in a revenge mission, attacked them after a prolonged shouting match accompanied with weapons attack.

However, the Police in Okpanam Division who pleaded anonymity, dispelled as untrue the killing of the three persons, confirming that there was complaints of an attack by some Igbo residents in the community by the herdsmen, adding that no life was lost.

Expectedly, following the complaints of alleged incessant threats to their lives and livestock by some residents in the community, particularly the Fulani herdsmen in Abodel Camp, Umuomake farmland, Okpanam, alleging that some Igbo men shot and killed two of their cows, including the killing of Mallam Bava by unknown persons in the early days of December 2017, the traditional ruler in the community, His Royal Majesty, Michael Mbanefor Ogbolu, has petitioned the Police Division in the community to as a matter of urgency, investigate the allegations and the alleged killings in the area.

The petition dated December 14, 2017 titled, “Alleged Belligerent disposition on the part of Messer Albert and Adada against Fulani Herdsmen in Umuomake Farmland Okpanam” urged the police to as a matter of necessity, swing into action to unravel the issue.

 

Fulani Herdsmen On Rampage Again, Kill Two Village Heads In Adamawa

After suspected herdsmen went on a rampage in an early morning attack on Lawaru and Dong Communities in Demsa Local Government Area of Adamawa state, two village heads have been reported dead.

At least two people have been reported killed following the early Monday morning attacks on communities in Adamawa State.

Local residents confirmed to Channels Television that the Village Heads of Lawaru and Dong communities in Demsa Local Government area lost their lives in the Monday early morning attack.

The attack is suspected to have been carried out by herdsmen.

The chairman of neighbouring Numan Local government Area also confirmed the attack explains that the attackers set people’s homes ablaze.

Numan itself is just recovering from an attack on Friday, December 1, which left at least four policemen dead.

At Least Three Policemen Feared Dead After Clash With Herdsmen

At least three policemen are feared killed in Bolon in Numan Local Government Area of Adamawa State, North East Nigeria.

The incident occurred after a clash between suspected herdsmen and the security personnel sent to keep the peace in the area following recent clashes between the herdsmen and farmers.

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had dispatched a team of policemen to the area after the initial violence.

The suspected herdsmen were said to be planning a reprisal on the communities in Numan LGA before Friday’s clash with the security operatives.