By Israel A. EBIJE
The recent barbaric killing of seven (7) Fulani men in Gboko local government area of Benue state stands condemned. Hoodlums involved in the attack operating under any guise have committed a felony and must be handed the punishment they deserve according to the full measure of the law if found guilty. The mindless, senseless burning alive execution meted on the victims is the degeneration of law and order I have always prayed Nigeria will not cascade into. We have played so much politics of silence or worthless gibberish comments since killings by herders got to an alarming proportion in parts of the country with intense occurrence in some north-central states. Too much politics is breeding “blooditics” from both sides of the divide.
Looking for who to blame for what happened in Benue is unfortunate and sadly characteristic behavior of how we find ourselves where we are today. The blame antics has trickled down from government to ordinary Nigerians who take pleasure in shifting responsibilities over stance they refused to undertake. Some people blame the mass media of information and communication for alleged &skewed& reports on the attacks by herders in communities across the country. Some blame the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for &over blowing& the herders, farmers clash. Few hours after the Gboko seven were burnt, some people took to social media platforms calling out CAN, insisting they instigated the execution. Same people trying to fan the flame into a religious crisis forgot how vehement they were in support of the mindless killings by herders either by maintaining silence or engaging in puerile arguments tacitly endorsing the barbaric onslaught against innocent Nigerians. The growing tension will definitely do no one any good and that is what the Gboko incident has made some who were clapping for the killers just realized.
We must act fast towards bringing lasting solution to this horrible killing monster fast growing bigger than its cage. With the recent declaration by president of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Socio-cultural Association, Bello Abdullahi Bodejo declaring trouble if president Mohammadu Buhari is not re-elected in 2019, is indeed a big deal in the ugly situation the country has to peal through. The position of Bodejo further confirms the fear of some Nigerians who think the Fulanis herders are uncontrollable on account of their ex-grand patron as president. The more many want to convince themselves the happenings across the country are isolated, positions of the association and some of their supporters suggests otherwise. Sadly, only a few are evil among the entire bunch. With a heavy stereotype hanging on their persons, who can decipher, as Fulanis have fast become people associated with terror.
For those heaping the blame of the escalating situation between herders and host communities on the media, social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, convey a whole chunk shoveled out of the filthy drainage of information dumping ground where drivels are thrown to the public domain to satisfy interests far removed from intentions to douse the brewing tension. The platforms do not operate on their own except handlers feed it with content they want people to know about. Mainstream media organization’s have been able to enrich their stories by extracting comments from social platforms. A good example is the Mal Nasir El Rufai position on the Fulani, farmers fiasco where he stated that if you kill a Fulani, you owe a debt repayable. Nigerians should blame themselves for the monster they refused to kill. A gorgon they allowed to grow on account of ethno-religious interests. A monster they fed with meals of encouragement either by saying nothing or singing praises. A monster they pampered with money despite the hideous crimes committed. A monster they have made so invisible, untouchable – even almighty.
The Minster of Defense Mansur Dan-Ali and the Inspector General of Police in their separate submissions said the decision of some states to enact laws banning open grazing triggered the violence. The Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Plateau State, Mr. Nuru Abdullahi, said nobody could deprive Fulani herdsmen of their constitutional right of free movement. We may recall that President Buhari once begged host communities to live in harmony with herders, blaming the frequent clashes on “population” growth. From the descending narratives, there is no definite warning against using violence to secure “lost” cattle routes. It has been a medley of sweet showers of excuses for a violent trend capable of tearing the country asunder, as frustrated Nigerians are beginning to arm themselves to respond to each attack.
Apparently desperate and frustrated, the National Council of Tiv Youths (NCTY) and the Middle Belt Youths Council (MBYC), have declared decision to defend their region against herders. The President of the National Council of Tiv Youths, Dr. John Akperashi, said his members are resolved to die while making sure further attacks by the dreaded herdsmen do not happen. Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, expressed concern over the rate of killings by herders. The association blamed the killings on alleged “government protection from counter attack, arrest or prosecution,” Whatever Asake statement meant, suggests the Christian based association is thinking the herders have gone beyond the tussle for routes to a religious warfare. That’s where the situation gets uglier, from the religious coloration between the alleged conquerors and vanquished.
This leaves people in vulnerable areas with no alternative than to defend themselves. Almost all the proposed solutions to the frequent killing spree are politically based. Sadly, all the sabre rattling’s over cows, Nigeria is not on the top 20 cow producing countries in the world. With the United States of America leading in beef production, ranching has been their strategy and no violence has been recorded between farmers and cattle owners.
The seriousness of our foolishness as a nation is reflected each time we seek subterfuge for criminals all because we seek to protect ethnic, religious or corporate interests instead of strengthening our corporate integrity. Even the criminals have realized our mediocre stance and they are basking in it as innocent Nigerians are slain on daily bases. The law of the jungle is setting in, as constitutional authorities begin to take the back seat.
Ebije can be reached via: [email protected] or @ebijeisrael