TIME TO FINALLY PROSCRIBE THE MILITANT FULANI HERDSMEN
That the militant Fulani herdsmen have become the greatest security challenge of this Nation must be obvious to all who wish this nation well. In fact many objective watchers have declared that the raids by the nomadic Fulani herdsmen is the biggest security threat facing Nigeria after Boko Haram. Indeed in 2016, more people died in clashes with militant herdsmen than Boko haram attacks .And yet our political leaders are handling the problem with kid gloves.
True the Fulani herdsmen and Farmers clash did not start today. It has been long but was limited to parts of the North East and North Central states. Indeed between 1996 and 2006 (Ten full years) only about 121 farmers were killed by the Fulani herdsmen, largely in Bauchi, Plateau and Gombe States. But since late 2014 and early 2015 and ever since, the intensity and regularity of the attacks have maintained a steady crescendo engulfing most of the central and southern regions of Nigeria. According to the global terrorism index, over 1200 people were killed by different Fulani herdsmen in 2014.
In January 2015, the Nkpologu community in Uzo-Uwani of Enugu State was thrown into mourning following an unprovoked attack of the Fulani cattle herders. In April 2016, suspected herders invaded Ukpabi Nimbo community in the same LGA killing scores of innocent citizens. The armed herdsmen numbering over 100 stormed the sleepy community in the early hours of a Monday. Indeed in Enugu State virtually all the 482 communities have had their shares of the Fulani herdsmen's barbaric activities, leaving in their wake, perennial tears of sorrows as incidents of killing, robbery, rape, maiming and kidnapping are inflicted on the communities.
Since January 2016, 10 Agatu communities in Benue State have suffered unprecedented hardship in the hands of Fulani herdsmen, forcing Governor Ortom to ban unrestricted grazing in Benue State. Abia state communities in Uzuakoli in Bende LGA, Ebem and Akanu in Ohafia LGA, Umuchieze in Umunneochi and Abam in Arochukwu have been variously attacked by Armed Fulani herdsmen who act as if they owned the entire Nigerian territory. The carnage caused by these marauders in Southern Kaduna was well reported and nothing could assuage them until Governor EL-Rufai of Kaduna State bribed them to calm down or look elsewhere. This year alone there have been attacks in Zaki Ibiam in Benue State in March, in Odukpani Cross River State in April and in May, armed herdsmen attacked Villages in Niger State killing 21people.
The attack of the Fulani herdsmen have not been limited to the North Central and South East States alone. Communities in Lagun, Iyana Offa, Offa, Atagba, Lapata and their surrounding communities in Lagelu LGA in Ibadan,Oyo State have been variously attacked. They have also attacked EKITI State and Ogun State prompting Ayo Fayose to take similar action as Governor Ortom of Benue State. The attack on and Kidnap of Chief Olu Falae made headline news. The attack has gone on up to Bayelsa and Delta states in the South- South Region. Everywhere, women and Men are afraid to go to their farms because of rampaging and raping Herdsmen who attack human beings while their cattle attack crops! This is nothing but war!
But this article has been instigated by the serial killings in Barkin Ladi and Bassa LGAs in Plateau in the last week. Trouble started. Villagers were killed by armed herdsmen, over 15 people. The State government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew. A second attack happened and 9 people were said to have been killed. Then the soldiers sent to keep peace took the remaining villagers to 'safety' in a primary school building. That same night, 48hours after the curfew by Governor Simon Lalong, the armed Fulani herdsmen returned, freely killing 27 helpless women and children, asleep in their 'safety nest ' in the Nkiedonwhro community in Bassa LGA. For the first time, this prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to issue a terse statement "the madness in Plateau State which led to the killings of at least 20 people has gone too far"
Good that the President spoke. Good that he called the serial attacks and killings madness. But who left it to go too far?
If PMB found justification to brand IPOB a terrorist organisation because operation Python dancers found a double barrel gun in Nnamdi Kanu's home or that one of the IPOB members tried to snatch a rifle from a soldier (what flimsy excuses!), what on the earth is stopping him from properly classifying the armed and militant Fulani herdsmen a terrorist group as rest of the World had done. He should then follow up with prescribing the group and then send the military to take them out. I am surprised that President Muhammadu can sleep easy when he has these marauders straddling around the Nation and shedding innocent blood. What a Nation that cannot protect innocent children and women even by Nigerian soldiers. I weep for Nigeria!
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR