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FULANI HERDSMEN AT WAR WITH THE REST OF NIGERIA- IDRIS USMAN

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The military speed, accuracy and brutal alacrity that the Fulani herdsmen applied in last Saturday’s massacre of over 200 indigenes of Barkin Ladi in the Southern part of Jos, Plateau State, suggest that the herdsmen may just have declared a war against the rest of Nigeria and without qualms or the usual war signs as in a conventional warfare, have begun to prosecute it in the most dastardly manner. As it looks now, there is no stopping them. Not the police, the military or any security agency at that, can stand in their way or see any end in sight.
 A simple estimate of the number of Nigerians that have lost their lives since the inception of the APC-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari when the herdsmen heightened what can be aptly dubbed, “operation kill and massacre”, will show that well over 10,000 Nigerians may have lost their lives and many more maimed. According to an Amnesty International report release on Wednesday, between a six months period of January and June 2018, nearly 2000 people have been slaughtered by the Fulani herdsmen.
The number of states that have been under persistent attack by the Fulani terrorists’ herdsmen, a moniker the Federal Government has defiantly refused to brand them, continues to rise by the day. At the last count, the insurgent herdsmen have attacked citizens in Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa and Zamfara. It started like child play until it became the biggest headache of every Nigerian and even the international community. The Federal Government which should have nipped the senseless killings by these armed pastoralists, in the bud, when they were killing just one and two people, as they went in search of grazing fields, became complicit and was even emboldening the herdsmen with their body language.
At a point, it was suggested that the only way to “get rid” of the herdsmen was by enacting a law that would prohibit grazing in the states. The law even went further to recommend ranching as the modern way of engaging in the cattle rearing business. Immediately, some states’ legislative Assemblies cashed into the idea and came up with anti-grazing laws which forbade grazing in those states. The herdsmen kicked against the law, describing it as aimed at killing their business. The umbrella body of the herders, called Myetti Allah, which spoke on behalf of the herdsmen, refused to accept the anti-grazing law and even vowed to unleash more deaths and mayhem on states which dared to enact such laws. To prove to the world that they are a law unto themselves, the Fulani herdsmen attacked Benue State, one of the states that passed the law. The carnage was in scores. A mass burial was organized in which 75 victims of the Fulani herdsmen attack were mass buried. Not one Fulani herdsman was arrested or tried for the pogrom.
The Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Dalong was quoted as chiding his Benue State counterpart, Mr. Samuel Ortom, that the sin Ortom committed was passing the anti-grazing into law against the wishes of the Fulani herdsmen. The comment did not go down well with many Nigerians who felt that Dalong displayed the worst kind of sycophancy, to please President Buhari, who is believed to be sympathetic to the Fulani herdsmen, perhaps, because himself, rears cattle and member of the Myetti Allah group. Many also believe that Buhari has refused to label the Fulani herdsmen as a terrorist group for the simple reason that he is a Fulani man and deals in cattle also and so, branding the herdsmen as terrorists would imply branding himself a terrorist too. However, the view is that if the president declares the herdsmen as terrorist, he’ll be able to unleash the full machinery of the country’s security apparatus to smoke them out wherever they may be.
Rather than do the needful and end the orgy of killings which the Fulani herdsmen have reduced Nigeria to, the government through the octogenarian Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, announced the introduction of Cattle colony. Most of the States rejected the idea from outset, saying that they would not cede their farmlands to create colonies for cattle. However, the Kogi State Governor, rooting to bootlick President Buhari immediately announced that his state was donating some thousands of hectares for the cattle colonies, a decision he immediately implemented before anyone could realise it.
But as it turned out, the Fulani herdsmen had declared a war against Nigeria and so, the colony in Kogi state could not assuage them. In one fell swoop, they massacred over 30 Kogi indigenes, including the traditional ruler of a community as well as his wife. Nobody heard what became of the Kogi State cattle colony afterwards. Nasarawa State was also meted out the same treatment Kogi was served. Scores of innocent people were killed in that state by the now dreaded Fulani herdsmen. The federal Government still did not see it necessary to declare the herdsmen a terrorist group and end their reign of terror.
The most recent incident which could be described as the most audacious by the herdsmen was last Saturday’s killing of over 200 persons in Plateau State by the Fulani herdsmen. The ugly incident immediately called to mind the comment credited to the Plateau State Governor when the Benue State Governor organized mass burial for 75 victims of the herdsmen attack. Nigerians immediately reminded Dalong that he did not enact an anti-grazing law and yet, the herdsmen have killed more people in one attack than they did in states with anti-grazing law, proving to sceptics that the issue of the herdsmen attack was a declaration of war and not a case of grazing rights.
The onslaught of the herdsmen has raised questions in the mind of Nigerians, especially, with regards to the role of the country’s security architecture. A school of thought believes that the president carefully selected the chiefs of most of the security agencies, including the Police, Army, Department of State Service DSS and Minister of Defence from his extraction of the country to create a fertile ground for the current unleashing of terror in the land. It would be recalled that the President accused the Police IGP Ibrahim Idris of flouting his order to stay in Benue in the wake of the murder of 75 people. The President neither queried the police boss nor relieved him of his duties for that grave insubordination.
Also, the Minister of Defence Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, had been quoted as literally supporting the herdsmen. His utterances provoked many Nigerians to call for his immediate sack but, the President has not seen enough reasons to sack a man who may be speaking the president’s mind and doing his bidding. It is believed in some circles that the security agencies may be giving support to the herdsmen and even giving out vital information to them which has made them appear invincible and pigheaded.
Only recently after the Plateau massacre, the Speaker of the House of Representatives quoted the president as saying that he plans to rejig his security architecture. The president has not personally told Nigerians this much and so, Nigerians are taking that cheering piece of news with nervousness, knowing that the president has a record of taking an ample time to carry out any action.
When and how the nation will respond to the war declared on the it by the terrorists Fulani herdsmen would be determined by when the President and the APC-led Government see the task of governance as holistic and not sectional ,then and only then will the herdsmen reign of terror be halted and peace will return to Nigeria.
As it stands the Federal Government which stands suspect in the murderous activities of the herdsmen has announced that it has made available a whooping N75 billion naira to ‘assist’ cattle owners to build ranches in states. Apart from the non-gumption in releasing such a huge funds for a private venture what is the guarantee that setting up such ranches will end the killings by the herdsmen when the only state that presented itself as guinea pig for cattle colony suffered a heavy casualty of massacre?
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