We are again at crossroads as a nation with the farmers/herders clashes being the latest test facing us as a people. We are daily confronted with gory pictures coming from Benue, Nassarawa, Plateau most recently Enugu state while other states have reported incidences. Given our diverse identities, reactions have been polarised along ethnic and religious lines and several of the interventions border on the extreme with the like of Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose threatening that the water sources in the state would be poisoned to deal with the herdsmen.
Online, people have been coming up with contents that could only serve to aggravate an already bad situation. One report spoke of how women in a particular community sprinkled chilli pepper on their farms to deter cattle from destroying their crops leading to the death of some of the herds that ventured into the farms. Some blogs have even gone to the extreme of instigating reprisals; some persons of northern origin have relocated from a few southern towns and cities over this.
The extreme ones among these interventions are condemnable with the only excuse for them being that those behind them mostly reacted from the sheer shock of the gruesome images of death they saw prior to stating their positions. But there are those contributions that were driven less by human reaction to terror but propelled by greed as they sway the situation only from the prism of “man must wack” and immediately see potential for blackmail or at least make some money from the highest bidders.
Among these unpatriotic entities was one that took the cake for its daring attempt of making fools out of Nigerians.
Anyone not familiar with Dr. Peregrino Brimah’s antecedents could be forgiven for thinking that his recent piece, “North`s Fulani Denial: Did Arase And Buratai Negotiate With Terrorists?”, was well intentioned and that he genuinely loves Nigeria. His dubious antecedents aside, the premise postulated in the questionable write up are full of holes that should alert the discerning to his true intentions. While I am not a mind reader, Brimah’s true intent is one of two things: he is either out to arm-twist Nigeria’s top military brass as has always been his desire or he is out to prove himself a loyal attack dog to his Iranian masters. Either way, the write up marks a new low for a confused being that is too disoriented to realise he should stop digging deeper into infamy after hitting rock bottom.
For those who don’t know much about this Iranian mercenary, he is the same chap that wailed he was the loudest online about what he termed the Nigerian Army’s “disproportionate” response to the apparent threat to life of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General TY Buratai with officers and men on his convoy. This was the fellow, who in a deranged fit of sponsored activism, virtually demanded that Nigeria ceases to exist to make way for a Shiite operated racket that answers to the Islamic Republic of Iran because this was what his recommended inaction on the part of the military would have amounted to.
This same character went on about how those that died in the resulting military operation were buried alive, or where still alive when buried. At the risk of trivialising this piece, Brimah’s assertion about burying deceased persons alive – between 24 to 48 hours after the operation easily reminds one of that spoof headline that read “Man commits suicide, runs away”. The idea is to show his lack of clarity in thinking through his allegation and overall stand and position.
In all his intervention for the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), he never accepted for once or even gave any hints that his clients have a history of violence and visiting oppression on the residents of Zaria, Kaduna state put up with for several decades. He never let on that members of IMN have been radicalised to the point of extremism and that the combatant training they have received – evidenced in video released online by the same sect – has positioned them as the replacement for Boko Haram as Nigeria’s new terror nightmare. He also did not address security analysts who expressed concerns that IMN militants could infiltrate the ranks of aggrieved herdsmen or even Boko Haram to realise their desired goal of destabilizing Nigeria to entrench Shiite rule. What matters to Brimah was for Nigeria to allow the IMN extremism to fester.
Now, compare the “peace loving” Peregrino Birmah (MD or PhD?) to the ranting loose cannon that is angry that efforts are on to stop further loss of life in the farmers/herders clashes that has sparked off a regime of tit for tat killings. In an analysis that would be unbecoming even for someone just discharged from a psychiatric facility, Birmah labelled the move as “negotiate(ing) with terrorists”. Anyone familiar with his style will realise that he was expressing his preference for a massacre on ethnic basis and the target was meant to be persons of Fulani origin.
The marauding herdsmen that unleashed death on several communities have been severally labelled as Fulani in a controversy that has proven to be highly divisive. I think the true identity of these attackers would be known when the security agencies, which have been ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari to end the herdsmen’s reign of terror, start making progress in apprehending these killers. Like the Boko Haram horror, we may later find out that those behind the attacks are not limited by religion or ethnicity and possibly not by occupation. Birmah’s sick suggestion to massacre Fulani would thus be as crass as asking that the Kanuris be exterminated to rid the nation of Boko Haram because the group operates in their ancestral home.
The writer’s shallowness was further exposed when he concluded that the mere fact that legitimate groups held press briefings to highlight what angered them as an association is the same as their being responsible for the killings of entire villages. He possibly has never come on the concept whereby the same people affected by and agitating for the same thing adopt different approaches – one choosing persuasion and dialogue while the other opts for violence, killing and depression – while neither is able to prevail on the other to change tactics. This does not rule out the side that favours dialogue from those perpetrating violence in the name of the same struggle. If the writer of that poisonous piece knows half of this perhaps he would have adopted a different approach to deliver the slave’s errand he was running for his paymaster.
To accuse the north of propping up the herdsmen to carry out attacks portrayed desperation to pitch one region of the country against the other in addition to the equally grievous and treacherous crime of pitching the nation’s over 250 ethnic groups against the Fulani. There has been no verifiable document to prove that our Dr Peregrino Brimah is a pyromaniac that enjoys explosions and conflagrations for the kicks of it so something else must be driving this desire to see Nigeria burn. Could this be the actual brief from his client that he has been unable to achieve with IMN’s militarisation?
Unfortunately, the average criminal in the world and especially Nigeria will today claim persecution for being an activist when legitimately arrested for a crime. But for this, one would have prescribed that Brimah be invited or extradited to explain what he knows about mercenaries being hired by the herdsmen. Could he have added outsourcing IMN militants to herders to the long list of nefarious things he does to pick his bills? With the veiled threats he had issued severally in defence of extremism this cannot be put past him.
While the foregoing are credible possibilities, they could also be giving too much credit for the capabilities of Dr Peregrino Brimah, who is living a false life style in a foreign land and is thus under pressure to do whatever is necessary to survive. Driven by hunger and want, he is prepared to mortgage the wellbeing of the rest 170 million of us to get his mess of pottage and that is what riles me. I will not sit by and stomach what I find it sickening, which is that in this contemporary time, in 2016, some self-acclaimed activist is trying to bamboozle us into rising up against an entire ethnic group over the crime of a few persons of that extraction; he is trying to pitch the north against the rest of the country at a time when right thinking citizens mention their nationality first before ethnicity or geo-political zones.
We should all be equally outraged that this character tried to diminish national institutions to achieve these nefarious goals by accusing the Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff of negotiating with terrorists.
The IGP and COAS must dismiss Birmah as what he is, a fifth columnist already paid upfront to sabotage Nigeria and consign his ranting to the dustbin where they belong. They should disregard this apparent attempt at blackmail – either for money or for the security bosses not to be able to deal with the rampaging herdsmen as they see fit. If he is no longer able to ingratiate himself to his paymasters with his outbursts he will likely be compelled to seek other revenue sources aside blackmail and being paid to destabilise our country.
*Suleiman, a public affairs commentator writes from Dutsima, Katsina State.