Can Fulani Herdsmen Menace threaten Unity of Nigeria?

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Nigeria may soon be heading for another serious crisis if the menace of Fulani herdsmen is left unchecked. The various ethnic groups in the South and Middle Belt have cried out for help and the inaction of government may spell doom for a country already divided

By Anayo Ezugwu

THE back and front confrontation over Fulanisation and Islamisation of Nigeria is a clear indication that the country is in a period of uncertainty and peril. Since former President Olusegun Obasanjo made the comment, the nation has further become divided across religious and ethnic lines more than ever before.

Obasanjo’s comment came as a reinforcement of the views already held by some groups, mostly in southern Nigeria that Fulani herdsmen menace if not checked could break up the nation. The groups like the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, Lower Niger Congress, LNC and Yoruba Council of Elders Europe and America, have so far written to the United Nations, British Congress and the Congress of the United States of America.

The groups have dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to the international bodies, alleging that the president was pursuing a jihad or Islamisation agenda. They alleged that the spate of insecurity in the country now appears worse than the peak days of Boko Haram insurgency some years back. Then, only the north east was regarded as a death zone in the country. But the story has changed. Fear, anxiety and tension have taken over everywhere and Nigerians appear helpless.

With the stories of kidnappers intermittently blocking the highways across the country, mostly in the South West; these groups have warned that Nigeria may not survive the next four years as a country. Several cases of major assaults and onslaughts against Nigerians have been reported with victims narrating their experiences and that of their families in the hands of Fulani herdsmen.

Buhari
Buhari

Notable among them was the recent attack on the convoy of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Akure-Ibadan road. Speaking on a live television programme on Sunday, June 9, Akeredolu said he and his colleagues were working towards ending the siege to the South-West. Akeredolu, who did not mention the exact date of the incident, said the suspects ran into the bush when security men attached to him opened fire.

“I have encountered them (kidnappers) before; so security issue is not limited to the masses alone. My convoy was targeted, but my security people shot into the air to scare them away. They fled into the bush on Akure-Ibadan road. We, as governors, will do something about the issue. We are discussing with the federal government. It is real that travellers are not safe on the road. It looks like it’s only the masses that are affected as big men are enjoying themselves as they drive in convoy. Is that so?”

The attack on the governor shows that the level of insecurity in the country is assuming another dimension. In addition, Nigeria has consistently ranked low in the Global Peace Index, GPI, 2018, signifying a worsened state of insecurity in the country.

According to the report produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, IEP, Nigeria is ranked the 16th least peaceful country in the world. The report ranked Nigeria 148 out of the total 163 countries surveyed. It also stated that global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27 percent in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deterioration.

Likewise, a recent report released by the Nigeria Security Tracker, NST, indicated that violent activities in the country have resulted in the death of 7,253 Nigerians between June 2018 and May 2019.

Rotimi Akeredolu
Akeredolu

These figures consist of those killed by insurgent groups like Boko Haram and Islamic State in the northern part of the country, herdsmen and extra-judicial activities by the police and other security officers. During the time-frame, Borno and Zamfara recorded the highest number of killings contributing to 49 percent of the total deaths within the last one year. Borno recorded 2,384 killings while 1,157 people were killed by different violent activities in Zamfara State.

Other states that make up the top 10 states of death from violent activities are Kaduna, 540; Benue, 330; Adamawa, 303; Yobe, 264; Taraba, 176; Plateau, 166; Rivers, 160 and Katsina with 127 deaths. The least affected states are Kebbi, 3; Kwara and Jigawa, 4; Osun, 8; Kano and Bauchi, 10; Gombe, Oyo and Enugu, 11 and Abia, 12.

In a report by Amnesty International titled ‘Nigeria: The harvest of death – Three years of bloody clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria,’ stated that the violent clashes between members of the farmer communities and members of herder communities in parts of Nigeria, particularly in the northern parts of the country, are over access to resources: water, land and pasture. It also reported the failure of the Nigerian government in fulfilling its constitutional responsibility of protection of lives and property by refusing to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of the attacks.

The report shows how government’s inaction fuels impunity, resulting in attacks and reprisal attacks, with at least 3,641 people killed between January 2016 and October 2018, and 57 percent of them in 2018 alone. Amnesty International found evidence showing that security forces received information about impending attacks and in some cases, came in contact with attackers, but did nothing to stop or prevent the attacks.

But to further boost the conviction of those who believed in the Fulanisation agenda, the government recently announced that it has acquired an Amplitude Modulation, AM, radio broadcast licence to reach herdsmen across the country, a radio station, which would operate on the frequency of 720KHz and would air in Fulfude, a language spoken mainly by the Fulani tribe.

In a dramatic twist that has left Nigerians bewildered, Buhari announced he has signed an Executive Order, operative from June 1 withdrawing from Nigerians the licence of all legally issued firearms. This final act has left about 200 million Nigerians under existential threat.

TY-Danjuma
Danjuma

In the face of this heightened insecurity, the NCEF led by T.Y Danjuma, a retired army general and former minister of defence, believed that the attitude of the government towards insecurity in the country today shows that it is a co-ordinated crime and support. “A former Governor of Borno State started the Boko Haram and co-opted the head of Boko Haram sect, Yesufu into his cabinet.

“A member of the NCEF and former chief of army staff had to call on Nigerians to resort to self-defense when the telephone of a terrorist was discovered to contain numbers of government and top officials in the Armed Forces. No commission of inquiry was set up, but a committee of the military was alleged to have found the military blameless. Today, all Ethnic Nationalities have been advised to resort to self-help. This is not evidence of an organized society.”

Likewise, the Yoruba Council of Elders Europe and America on June 1, wrote a letter to António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, intimating him of the security situation in Nigeria. The group in the titled “Genocide on the horizon: Call for urgent United Nations intervention in Nigeria,” said there is need to save potential genocide situation in Nigeria.

The group said intelligence available to them showed that genocide is about to happen on a scale never known before, executed by armed people with logistics back up and positioned strategically around the country.

“Urgent and decisive action of the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Assembly, and United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the responsibility to protect is required to save lives of millions of Nigerians. Indeed urgent, decisive and far reaching actions by the United Nations are required to prevent what even the world bodies are aware would destabilise the entire region on a scale never known before.

“The Yoruba people of South West Nigeria are aware of the attraction that our land generates. This is partly due to the wealth of fertile land that supports agriculture, the natural resources, including the access to seaport. For example, so many riches lie in our waters. Forty-nine of the 195 (approximately 25 percent) countries of the world are landlocked, yet eight of the 15 (53 percent) lowest-ranking countries in the World Human Development Index are landlocked countries.

“It is a known fact that these countries face structural challenges, face lengthy wait and higher cost of exportation and importation, depend on the peace, commerce and political goodwill of neighbouring countries for passage of goods and suffer from significantly reduced trade. The gross domestic product of these countries is 40 percent lower compared to their maritime neighbours.

Tony Nnadi
Tony Nnadi

“The South West Nigeria is well situated to enjoy all the benefit of a coastal country. Other groups in Nigeria have also expressed concerns and frustration on how the actions of the federal government of Nigeria have made them vulnerable in the hands of those, who target their land and other resources. The declaration of withdrawal of licensed firearms by Executive order of President Muhammadu Buhari  (himself a Fulani man) has been described by Nigerians as the final call by the Fulanisation Lords to the population targeted for their lands and resources to surrender all legally acquired arms and would be followed by suppression and putting into extinction of millions of Yorubas and other Nigerians. The stakes cannot be higher!”

On his part, Tony Nnadi of the Lower Niger Congress, speaking at the US Congress said the recent claims by one Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, the director, Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training, Zango Shanu, Zaria, regarding the factors responsible for the rapidly spreading and escalating killings and criminality across vast swathes of territory in northern Nigeria now heading southwards, is part of a carefully choreographed narrative offensive being driven by the murderous Fulani Caliphate in northern Nigeria to disguise their bloody southward conquest and colonization campaign laced with jihad.

“Unfortunately, many stakeholders, especially in the international circuit, get very easily deceived by these Roguish Narrative Merchants, who also engage heavily paid lobbyists and publicists to market their falsehoods in decision-making places across the globe,” he said.

But the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has said that recognition of June 12, as Nigeria’s official democracy day by Buhari shows that Islamization, Biafra and Fulanisation agenda are all imaginations coined by mischievous subjects, unscrupulous elements and enemies of progress. The group in a statement signed by Ishaq Akintola, its director, said: “As we have the Evans in kidnapping, the Oyenusi’s in armed robbery and the Shekaus in Boko haramism, so do we have the Buhari’s in good governance, the Oloyedes in transparency and the Tony Elumelus in business acumen.”

– June 14, 2019 @ 18:18 GMT |

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