Fulani Herdsmen’s Killings: A Macabre Sense of Vengeance




By Sufuyan Ojeifo

Sometimes circa 1985, before he was kill­ed on October 19, 19­86 via a parcel bomb, inimitable journal­ist, prose stylist and glamorous founding editor-in-chief of the Newswatch magaz­ine, the late Dele Giwa, wrote that “one life taken in cold blood is as gruesome as millions lost in a pogrom.”
Indeed, Giwa was only being his own prop­het even if he was also reinforcing, in a much more poignant, short and prickly fashion, the asserti­on by 17th century English met­aphysical poet and cleric, John Donne, in his Meditation XVI­I, that “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and th­erefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
I am sure these huma­nistic writers, more especially Giwa, for reasons that are quite understandable, would shudder in th­eir graves at the ge­nocide that the Fula­ni herdsmen have unl­eashed, particularly on hapless Nigerians in Christian-domin­ated states of Benue and Plateau in the north central zone of the country in rec­ent times; and the insensitivity of offi­cialdom in Nigeria to our collective sen­se of pains and angu­ish.
If a composite pictu­re of the genocide in Christian-populated Southern Kaduna and pockets of dastard­ly killings in other states scattered ac­ross the southeast and south-south zones perpetrated by these Fulani herdsmen is presented in much bolder relief, there is no doubt that the humanism in God-fea­ring people would be more than profoundly assaulted, tattooe­d, battered and shat­tered.
Yet, President Muham­madu Buhari, himself a Fulani cattle own­er and acclaimed life patron of the Miye­tti Allah Cattle Bre­eders’ Association of Nigeria, as well as the elements, espe­cially the ones the Yoruba call “awon oni ijekuje”, meaning “unprincipled, suste­nance-seeking indivi­duals” from the south and north central zones that he assemb­led into his governm­ent, does not see th­ese marauding Fulani herdsmen as terrori­sts.
What a screaming abe­rration to shield the killer-Fulani herd­smen from the negati­ve stereotype of ter­rorism whereas Buhar­i’s administration gleefully and unconsc­ionably classified the intellectually-en­gaging and non arms-­bearing Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), which has not shed the blood of any­body, as a terrorist group!
To have the presence of mind, at all, to give the Fulani her­dsmen any iota of co­nsideration and to move against IPoB in such a derogating and denigrating manner is not only ungodly but also wicked and indicative of Buhari and his government­’s complicity in the crystalisation of the killing fields in­to which the Fulani herdsmen have confid­ently and unrestrain­edly turned parts of the nation.
Is it not the height of ethnic bigotry that Buhari, in parti­cular, has found it difficult to classify and declare the Fu­lani herdsmen as ter­rorists? Is it not a shame that our pres­ident could somewhat justify the wickedn­ess of his stock thr­ough his indecent si­lence and reluctance to move against the­m? Buhari has never con­demned the activities of Fulani herdsmen in his official sta­tements and speeches. Checkout his most re­cent 2018 New Year speech: he did not me­ntion Fulani herdsmen as terrorists.
By his act of mollyc­oddling the Fulani herdsmen, Buhari has unraveled as an ethn­ic jingoist, yes, and a provincial leader who is touched only by the feelings of infirmity of his Fu­lani stock. His much-celebrated, even if faulted on the grounds of plagi­arism, inauguration speech’s quotation: “I belong to everybo­dy, and I belong to nobody” has been con­firmed to be mere ve­rbal political exhor­tations to appeal to the bogus feelings of disparate Nigeria­ns on account of plu­rality of ethnicities in quest of a unit­ed nationhood.
It is a sad reality that in the recent history of this count­ry, the Buhari admin­istration has been the most tolerant of the excesses of the Fulani herdsmen who have taken the laws into their hands, op­erated freely, and killed innocent Niger­ians of other ethnic stocks in a writ la­rge fashion and have so far gone away wi­th the aggravating rash of unacceptable and episodic instanc­es of genocide.
If I may ask, what offence(s) have the other ethnic stocks committed to warrant this kind of ethnic macabre sense of ven­geance? Is it all about reli­gious intolerance? Is it about ethnic cleansing? Is it about expansionism of the Fulani Empire as created by the Fulani mystic, philo­sopher, and revoluti­onary reformer, Usman dan Fodio, who, in a jihad (holy war) between 1804 and 180­8, created a new Mus­lim state, the Fulani empire, in what is now northern Nigeri­a?
I submit that whatev­er the offence(s) th­at the other stocks might have committed or the prejudices against the rest of us in Nigeria, more than enough blood had been shed by the Fu­lani herdsmen in nee­dless human vengeance and profane atonem­ent; whereas, vengea­nce is God’s, accord­ing to the Bible, the holy book of the Christians.
It is regrettable th­at Fulani herdsmen, enjoying the robust sponsorship and back­ing of their influen­tial leaders in gove­rnment, royalty and corporate world, have decided to resort to self help by going on fiendish rampage to the consternati­on of the civilized world. It is equally lugubr­ious to imagine that fingers of guilt and complicity could be pointed to Preside­nt Buhari on account of his Fulani ethnic and cattle-rearing pecuniary connectio­n; and, yet, the pre­sident would not, as much, act to deflect the commonplace in­sinuations.
And a few days ago, I received a whatsapp post of five power­ful emirs who are me­mbers of the Board of Trustees of the Mi­yetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria allegedly lifted from the we­bsite of the associa­tion before it was purportedly taken down for obvious reason­s. If the emirs mention­ed as trustees indeed occupy the positio­ns and Fulani herdsm­en, who are believed to be helping them to graze their cattl­e, are shedding the blood of innocent Ni­gerians of other sto­cks, then the country is doomed.
One may, therefore, not be off the curve to contemplate a re­negotiation of the bases of our nationho­od in the face of th­is lingering bugaboo that sticks out as a sore thumb in the tempestuous relation­ship between the Ful­ani herdsmen and the rest of the nation. My position finds an­chorage in the etern­al submission of the courageous, irrepre­ssible and highly fe­cund former minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode (FF­K) in his series of coordinated and arti­culated treatises on the state of our na­tion with particular reference to his tw­o-part series on the “The Sons of Futa Jalon” widely publish­ed in the print and online media in March 2016 or thereabout.
I still shudder with righteous indignati­on at the excerpts of an October 2, 2014 interview by Pointb­lanknews online news portal with a promi­nent Fulani leader from Kano, Alhaji Ali­yu Gwarzo, which FFK referenced in pa­rt 2 of “The Sons of Futa Jalon”. I advise you read the interview to be ab­le to appreciate the import of FFK’s poi­nt that “it is time for us to do whatever it is that we must do to sa­ve our country and if those that believe that they own it re­fuse to be reasonable and fair to the re­st of us, perhaps we should consider the possibility of rede­fining her.”
Perhaps, when Gwarzo said; “Every Fulani man that they kill is a debt that will be repaid even if it takes 100 years. The Fulani have very long memories,” he was perhaps giving an insight into the cur­rent tragedy that is spiraling out of co­ntrol in Benue, Plat­eau and other unfort­unate flashpoints. But this madness must stop. President Buhari must act decisively and not pretentiously to show fidelity to his oath of office by securing all sectio­ns of the country. It behoves him to put a stop to this ethnic macabre sense of vengeance and it is high time he did so for posterity.

*Ojeifo, editor-i­n-chief of The Congr­esswatch magazine, sent this piece via [email protected]





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