Implications of the Enugu Genocide
The recent unprovoked killings of some people in Enugu State by suspected Fulani herdsmen despite the information given to the police and other security operatives by the state governor is another ugly chapter of the sordid saga of some herdsmen operating under the veneer of terrorism.
The implications are grave for the corporate existence and unity of the nation. It is beyond mere transfer of the state police commissioner. All those in position of authority either by their action or inaction that led to the genocide should be sanctioned with the relevant laws of the land. These brutality, lawlessness and terrorism can no longer be tolerated as the occupational hazards of some pastoralists. This is a trying period for the Buhari administration.
A lot of noise is currently polluting the media space whether these terrorists are Fulani or not. The issue is whether they are Isoko herdsmen, Yoruba herdsmen or Ijaw herdsmen, the law should be applied and the government should not give us the faintest impressions that some people are above the law. The Northern Governors Forum recently issued a statement about the menace of herdsmen and argued that it was an insult to state that the herdsmen are Fulani.
They also maintained that they were not comfortable with generalizations of the activities of these herdsmen. The greater insult is that by that statement, the northern governors are putting the unity and corporate existence of this country under great strain. Criminality should be condemned for what it is and should not be given cover because of ethnic affiliations.
This is not the first time the Fulani herdsmen are committing havoc in the nation. They did that in the south west, the killings in Benue State and recently in Delta State that spurred Deltans to protest the activities of these herdsmen in the state. Why are the herdsmen carrying dangerous weapons like AK47? The truth of the matter is that the average Fulani herdsman bearing arms is supported by influential businessman and political elites. And until these people see the implications of what these messengers of death are doing, we shall continue to witness the murderous activities of these herdsmen in bid to protect their cattle. In their twisted philosophical formulation, their cattle are more important than human lives. A civil war is brewing in the cauldron and this is time for the government to act.
I do not want to believe that Buhari is not taking tough action because those involved are his kinsmen. I am also not persuaded by the argument that the Fulani herdsmen are trying to complete the expansionist ambition of Uthman Dan Fodio. Nigeria is rather too advanced for such local imperial ambition. That is why the president should move beyond giving orders to the Inspector General of Police and the heads of the military to disarm the Fulani herdsmen bearing arms. A more decisive action like the ones used against the Boko Harm or the Niger Delta militants should be directed at these herdsmen. They do not have the authority to bear arms and use same to harm people in their own land. Just as the police are very zealous in dealing with people with unlicensed double barrel guns, any person other than the security operatives carrying arms should be seen as criminals. It is this kid gloves treatment given to these herdsmen that are making them to think that they are above the law and could go scot free with their criminal activities.
Should this menace continues, there are grave implications for the nation. Already some people in the south are resorting to self help. In Abia State, the governor has given order to the restoration of the famous Bakassi Boys. In the south west, the OPC had vowed to protect her people and territory. And the governor of Ekiti State has called on his people to poison the ponds and water so that the cattle should die on drinking such water. Some militants in the Niger Delta had also promised to give these herdsmen a raw deal. Thus in most parts of the South and Middle Belt, the Fulani herdsmen have overstayed their welcome. I do not support this recourse to self help when we have well established police and security operatives. The government should not abdicate its sole responsibility which is the security and welfare of the citizens.
Those who are in the business of animal husbandry should establish ranches for their animals. That we still have cattle roaming our streets and farmlands is clear advertisement of the backward nature of our economy. Equally laughable is the intention to establish grazing routes and this will eventually give legitimate stamp to the lawlessness and brutality of the herdsmen. There is simply no alternative to the establishment of ranches.
As for the Enugu genocide, a commission of inquiry should be set up and those culpable should face the wrath of the law. As for those still in doubt about the identity of the herdsmen, one of them caught with gory pictures of the dead people in his phone has proved that. True that governor of Enugu State as the chief security was weeping on getting to the site of the pogrom. It is also true that he visited Aso Rock to brief the president. But the president as the father of the nation ought to visit Enugu State and pass a powerful message about his hatred towards criminality. It is not too late to show leadership. And this he must do by devoting the same energy and drive in fighting the Boko Haram insurgency to taming the menace of the Fulani herdsmen. In that way, Nigeria may avoid the sprouting of another terrorist group. As for those self serving northern governors defending the activities of these criminals, they should realise that one day, their comfort zone may be invaded by these marauders and blood sucking demons using the activities of herding cattle to stab the very unity of the country. These herdsmen are our common enemy and should be so treated.
Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State. 08037768392