.Govt has not shown seriousness in tackling the issue
. Miyetti Allah’s statement most irresponsible—Maxi Okwu
By Chioma Gabriel, Editor Special Features
The spate of senseless killings in Nigeria has reached a crescendo. Everything has been blamed for the problem except the herdsmen perpetrating the act.
People trained by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya were alleged to have infiltrated Nigeria and committing these killings. Politicians have been blamed for arming people who pretend to be herdsmen and who are now killing, maiming and chasing people out of their communities.
It has been called farmers herdsmen clashes even though farmers were never armed to confront herdsmen and it was glaring that many victims of the killings were neither farmers nor owners of farmlands. The Catholic priests killed in Benue were not managing any farms neither were they anywhere near farms. Yet, the authorities would use words like farmers/herders clashes instead of putting the issue in its proper perspective.
The Benue dead were hardly laid to rest when another carnage happened in Plateau and over 100 were massacred.
Shorty after the attack, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN described the attacks as an act of retaliation over the killing of 300 cows belonging to its members.
After the claims by Miyetti Allah made headlines, Danladi Ciroma, chairman of north central zone of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN),who was credited with the statement denied linking the killings in Plateau state to reprisal attacks.
The statement credited to Miyetti Allah and signed by Danladi Ciroma had claimed that the attack was in retaliation of the killing of over 300 cows in the last few weeks by the villagers.
He said despite the efforts of the state government, some criminal elements hiding among their people were still frustrating the peace efforts. “These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission.
“There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen. The people carrying out these criminal activities are well known to the communities but the communities are hiding them.
“Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks – 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu.
“Since these cows were not found, no one should expect peace in the areas. Even soldiers that went after the criminals to recover the rustled cows were shot by the armed rustlers and eventually escaped with all the cows.
“The government of Governor Lalong has done a lot to restore peace, but the criminal elements hiding among their people are the ones frustrating these peace efforts.
“Though the security agencies have tried, they need to do more by being fair to all parties; they should not neglect any report presented by Fulani of Berom because such report can lead to attacks and deaths if not properly handled.
“Criminals thrive a lot in Berom communities, but when the Fulani, who are always victims of their crime, react with attacks, they blame the government.
“These communities have leaders, why hide the criminals? They should fish out the criminals and hand them over to security agencies to avoid death of innocent ones.
“As it is today, the Berom man cannot go to farm, the Fulani cannot breed his cows in Berom Land. This can be stopped if the security agencies do more than what they are currently doing. The attacks will stop as soon as the security agencies stop Berom youths from stealing Fulani cows” he added.
At the height of the furore generated by Miyetti Allah’s statement, Ciroma denied issuing the statement.
He said: “I did not issue a statement. No, we talked on phone. Sincerely speaking, what that boy wrote was not what I told him. We did not speak on reprisal attacks.
“What is happening in Plateau from 2001 is not good. I am a peace loving person. I am sure that if Berom people read what they wrote about me, they won’t believe it. They don’t know me with that kind of habit. Since the coming of this government, the governor set up several committees on peace and if anything happens anywhere he is, he will return home.
“The security men on ground have been doing their best. But Fulani and farmers must find a way of living peacefully because no one will separate them. Innocent lives are been killed.
“The biggest issue we have on ground is cattle rustling. In Fan district, over 300 cattle have been rustled. It has become a no go area and security agencies know about it. Among the Fulani and the Birom youths, there are enemies of peace. The herders and farmers have been fighting, which is not good. Our concern is peace.”
However, the carnage has continued to generate furore across the globe with many calling for the arrest of leaders of Miyetti Allah. Most recently, Amnesty International hinted that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was aiding the attacks.
Adding his voice to the confusion, former presidential candidate of Citizens Popular Party, CPP, Chief Maxi Okwu said security agencies and the government should be blamed for the killings.
“The statement credited to Miyetti Allah is the most irresponsible comment. It is anti Nigeria and the failure of FG and security agencies. Government should rise to the occasion and secure Nigeria. What happened in Plateau could happen anywhere in Nigeria. Miyetti Allah should be declared a terrorist organisation immediately if we value lives in this country. Lives of Nigerians are at stake”.
Commenting on the issue, elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai described the issue as very serious. “The killings are largely non political. They are ethnic and religious because the indigenous people of Plateau are non-Fulani and non-Muslim. So, there have been problems for a long time between the indigenous people and Fulani settlers. The native people are not comfortable with settler Fulani and others who came because of mining activities. The indigenous are not traders. That is why there are so many people, all comers from different backgrounds.
“The indigenous are the originators of the whole thing. They see non-indigenes as foreigners and therefore, not entitled to own land or anything. The Fulani are originally from the Middle-East. They are from Yemen and other Middle-East countries. Most northerners are basically from Middle-East and they came because of mining and other business activities. The indigenes are not comfortable with that.
“The killings did not start today. They have been going on for a number of years. It is not a new thing and initially had nothing to do with Miyetti Allah. Miyetti Allah is a new creation in the whole thing. It’s an association of cattle-rearers. They are protecting the interest of fellow Fulani, their right to trade, to settle and their right to do business.
“But the government is not taking action concerning the killings and so it continues to happen. It is the fault of government and security agencies. Miyetti Allah is part of the Fulani settlers and the Fulani are everywhere in Africa. They know the bush paths and they are the highest diaspora in West Africa. They can come from Burkina Faso, Yemen or anywhere, commit a crime and slip away without a trace.
“It is the problem of FG and security agencies to tackle these issues and show how to overcome them. I don’t like the fire-brigade attitude of the government to these issues. Whenever the killings happen, they make noise and everything dies down until it happens again. That is not the way to solve the problem.
“If Miyetti Allah said they did it, government and security agencies know what to do. They should get serious and investigate the problem in order to solve it.”
For Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, a former governor of Anambra State, “It is courageous for Miyetti Allah to say that and nothing happens. What is there to say? Didn’t you see the corpses. I am happy that Theophilus Danjuma has spoken and this time, I expect the government to come up with something serious.”
For Ohanaeze Ndigbo, “the mayhem in Jos Plateau State is a national disaster, which doubles as a climax of the total breakdown of the security system in Nigeria. The response of the President and the Federal Government is most disappointing.Our country is threatened in a way that it has never been threatened before and Nigerians are anxious to see a more positive response from the government, otherwise, we will be calling for a meeting of all socio-cultural organizations in the country, to ask the Federal Government whether it is capable of keeping Nigeria and Nigerians safe.
“While the Federal Government proscribed IPOB, a harmless organization, Miyetti Allah which has openly claimed responsibility for most of the attacks for just the killing or rustling of their cattle has been going around unruffled.
‘If government could label IPOB a terrorist organization, there was no reason the Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of cattle herders, should not be proscribed and their leaders prosecuted.
“If the Federal Government is not being partisan, why the silence on the utterances of Miyetti Allah?”
Meanwhile the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations of Nigeria, COCSON, the umbrella body of all civil society groups in Nigeria has asked President Buhari to resign immediately since he has failed to discharge his constitutional role of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians.
“Life is now worthless in Nigeria and the situation is no longer acceptable.”