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ANALYSIS: The “Fulani Herdsmen” Threat Must Stop If President Buhari Feels People’s Impulse

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

I was driving late Monday morning this week, when I heard through the car radio, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), speaking on the state of Nation, at the first Town Hall meeting of the present administration held in Lagos. Although, the broadcast I listened to was short, still, what I heard the immediate past Lagos State Governor saying were inspiring and striking. But I must also submit that Fashola’s brief statement (which I listened to) must be considered alongside the deadly attacks by the ‘so called’ Fulani Herdsmen on the farmers and now the residents, both in the Northern and Southern parts of the country.

In his opening, Fashola took time to convince his audience that the present administration was fully aware of the biting socio-economic challenges in the country. He established that the Government heard “clearly” and loudly too, the grouses of Nigerians on the worrisome and terrible state of things in the country.

Acknowledging the unfolding challenges by the Minister is the point of attraction to me. Yet, I asked myself, if this came from Fashola, can one totally agree to his submission; given the disturbing dimension the attacks unleashed on innocent Nigerians by the ‘so called’ Fulani Herdsmen as well as President Muhammadu Buhari’s perceived annoying and long silence on the matter?

Definitely, I feel that Nigerians who have been reacting negatively at the instance of Mr. President seemingly cold disposition on the matter are justified. For example, the Agatu bloody attacks was one series skirmish, which nobody will ever wish to witness, let alone being trapped in it, or having relations as victims.

Persistent and deadly clash between herdsmen and farmers is not strange to many in this part of Africa. Even if there is collaboration between the two in some parts, the fact remains that the two, in certain parts of Nigeria have failed to tolerate one another. Of course, it could have been gladdened if they were able to relate symbiotically anyway. But despite the nomadic herdsmen historic dispute, the raging version and the twist is taking – both on the part of the two estranged fellows and Government is very alarming, hence, the need for urgent intervention by the Federal Government and security agencies.

The latest, (Monday) attack in Enugu, South East Nigeria, first appeared like a make-believe home video, when the report reached me. Presently, the natives of Nimbo community in Uzo Uwani Council area of Enugu are mourning not less than 40 of their own, killed in the mayhem.

I recall that the news reports of Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash in the South east States have been in the media recently. So, the question is, what is the affected State Governments and their security apparatus have been doing before now? Of course, what decisive steps or security measures did Federal Government take so far, since the recent massacre of Agatu farmers by the herdsmen occur, up till Monday bloodbath in Enugu?

The perceived silence and inaction of President Buhari is the reason why Nigerians are so annoyed and insist that the same merciless and ruthless treatment meted out to the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East should be replicated with the criminals – perhaps, using Fulani herdsmen as a face saving to unleash terror on the people. I cannot agree less with people for so being upset.

I heard the President’s aide on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adeshina, last week on a live radio interview programme, saying Mr. President had spoken and taken action on the matter, but it appeared Nigerians did not take note. He cited the release issued which condemned and warned against further attacks. Mr. Adeshina also mentioned that President Buhari’s promise during an interview with Al Jazeera in Doha, capital of Qatar recently, that his Government would take drastic steps to finally resolve the crisis.

The Presidential aide specified that on return from the trip, Buhari met with the Governors and one of the fruits of the meeting was the resolution on the need to earmark ranches for the herdsmen to graze their animals. I am not sure many Nigerians including the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who had accused the President of “inaction” on the attack, is aware about what Mr. Adeshina said, otherwise, the complaint about his silence would not have been made. Beside, there is nothing on ground to show that any serious step has been taken against further attack before the Monday killing in Nimbo community.

Really, I am bothered about the manner the crisis is being handled in the past. Just like Nigerians have witnessed in many previous administrations, why must Federal Government wait till more havocs were wrecked on the people before acting decisively? The Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi said he gave the hint of the looming attack ahead of Monday, yet, nothing was done. This is not an indictment to the State Police Command alone, but as well to the Presidency.

Ironically, in our traditional manner of approach to disaster, President Buhari made a statement this week and vowed that the criminals would be dealt with like terrorists. Followed by this was the visit, Wednesday by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase to the attacked community. As usual, Arase vowed that the suspects would be fished out and face the law. But during his visit, did Arase ask his men, in particular, the State Commissioner of Police (CP) what steps did he take, when given the alert of possible attack by the State Chief Security Officer – the Governor? If the IGP did, what was the response of the CP? To know how resolute and serious the Police Chief was, on the matter, the public must be obliged what roles did the Force play to check Monday attack and other recent similar onslaught.

Now, no one should pretend; ‘the strange’ Fulani herdsmen attacks unfortunately, has somewhat come to stay. Pitiably, this is happening when the battle against the Boko Haram terrorists is still ongoing in the North Eastern part of the country. But I ask; are these so called herdsmen really of Fulani extraction? Are the suspects who attacked Agatu land and Enugu community really herdsmen? Are these attackers not criminals – the wanted and displaced Boko Haram terrorists, who hide under the guise of the nomadic men? And as it has been speculated by many, are the recent attacks, insurgency in another colour? By the way, does the Fulani herdsmen have a trade body? If yes, has the body ever denied involvement of its members in the bloody attacks experienced so far?

I reason and absolutely agree that this matter is very complex, thus requires wisdom, but with resilience to tackle. What I mean here is that given their history, it is not impossible that the attack vis-à-vis the tribe suspected to be behind it, is real. Again, it is not impossible that some criminals only attempt to be smart – using the possible channel to launch attack and vent their disgust.

However, the dimension the Enugu State Police Command has added to the debate is instructive. Speaking Thursday, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ebere Amarizu declared that the Monday attack was not carried out by the Fulani herdsmen, rather, by the miscreants. Her boss – the State CP, Mr. Nwobodo Okechukwu re-echoed this Friday. In as much as I am trying not to be accused of neither here nor there, I must confess, I took Amarizu’s statement and her boss, with a pinch of salt. My reason is simply because the Nigerian Police has history of shielding facts to cover up its lapses, as well as serve a particular interest, not necessarily the public.

For me to rely on the CP or PPRO statement, the following questions must be asked: First, where did the hoodlums come from? Which tribe were they from? And in case Amarizu claims they were easterners, what was their motive of killing fellow natives and kinsmen? It is also surprising that no one has come out to fault Amarizu’s claim after over 48 hours. Does that suggest the CP and PPRO were right? This is the reason why I held earlier that the so called herdsmen attack demands caution before one could make final but correct conclusion.

Still, as I established earlier, there should not be pretension that the challenge is right with us, so, we must face and address it frontally. Never, I won’t be a party to President Buhari being unnecessarily carried away that the issue was politically motivated. The moment this government considers the attacks as a National tragedy and accords it similar treatment; better for us.

The President should not make similar mistake like his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, when they were avoidably carried away by the sentiment that Boko Haram attacks and the abduction of Chibok School girls were political and hoax. Indeed, President Buhari should not wait until the criminals and terrorists kill more people; take over and occupy villages; communities and possibly local councils; resort to abduction and other dastardly acts, before acting and nip the matter in the bud. Nigeria has lost too many innocent souls to the avoidable criminal acts; therefore I pray that: “Ani sofo emi mo” (we shall no longer lament over further casualties). But “Igi gagaran ma gun mi loju, okere lati lo” (Alert of looming dangers is made from afar).

My point here is that whether the Agatu and Nimbo community attackers were either miscreants; real Fulani herdsmen or nonentities but politically motivated, Nigerians and Mr. President in particular, must face the fact that the attackers are criminals; terrorists and ultimately common enemies who are bent on truncating our common goals of becoming a peaceful and prosperous Nation. So, what do we do to overcome the foes? Your answer, I guess is as mine.

Finally, having agreed to the highlighted allusion, President Buhari, must note that on this matter, there must not be conspiracy; no indulgence; no pretence; no sentiment and there must not be a sacred cow! Also, as Mr. President and IGP have vowed, they unmask our enemies; the traitors; the conspirators; terrorists within and slam them with due and appropriate sanctions, so that Nigeria can be free and prosper.

Nigerian Policemen; From The Check Points To Begging

Since the days of Mohammed Abubakar as the IGP, when the order which banned Police road blocks and check points was handed down, nothing has significantly changed. Till date, the points remain on our roads across the country. This is aside the weekly collections at the junctions and bus stops, with special peculiarity to Lagos State. If you venture to ask why has the trend fail to abate, the obvious answer you are likely to get is that the culture is endemic; therefore, the security men will never let it go! These days, the Nigerian Policemen have come with another disturbing and disgraceful approach of ‘helping’ and working for themselves.

On Monday this week, I was accosted by a team of Policemen while driving within my vicinity (Ojokoro, in Ifako Ijaiye Council area). Then, I had about two cartons of noodles inside the car and on sighting them at the back, the next expression from the young female officer who was sent to come and handle me was, which of the “Indomine” is for us? If you consider this as the usual banter from the policemen on field duty, you might be correct. But hear this please. On Thursday, I made a brief visit to a brother of mine who runs a press in Dopemu, Agege, Lagos State. I had barely taken my seat when a team of three Policemen (two females and a male) requested to see the Oga. My brother’s efforts to trick them that Oga was not available did not work. They threw back banters at him and repeated that they came to visit and ask “waitin una de get for us”. It was as if they came on a debt recovery mission. The Policemen did not leave until my brother parted with N1000!

It is not the money or the amount dashed out was my concern. Rather, my worry is that why must a professional (supposedly) security personnel, descended so low and resorted to begging? My brother, naturally, a very jovial type, as usual added humour to the drama, when he said: ‘they resorted to begging when there are no more criminals to arrest on the roads’. Again, someone said they were yet to receive their salaries. And I asked, which salary – March, April or May? Even if it were to be any of the stated, (definitely not May), what about many State public servants who are currently being owed months of salaries? We must call a spade by its real name. The truth is that many Nigerian policemen lack moral; they have thrown decency and decorum into the wind. By their conduct presently, it is certain that an average policeman in this country will do anything just to make ‘daily’ income. With what I experienced in my brother’s office, it means they would approach other commercial premises and do the same, perhaps, they might replicate the act in some selected residential buildings. Na wah O! And these are the security men to maintain law and order; to apprehend suspected criminals! And they are parents – who will be preaching morals to their young ones, when they do not have any. And this is happening when the government is taking steps for Nigerians to change their questionable ways of life.

President Buhari, IGP Arase, this is the picture of the Police under your leadership. It’s a pity this nonsense (lack of dignity in labour) is happening in this era of CHANGE. Wonders shall never end.

E-Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun; Twitter: @tjaysuccess10


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