By Henry Umoru & Dennis Agbo
•Ohanaeze ‘ll resist Fulani vigilantes in Igboland —Nwodo
•We’re not against cattle rearing, but…, say S/East Govs
•It’s a provocative agenda—Afenifere
•We’ll make our position on state police known soon —Govs
•Police bemoan lack of personnel
We need Fulani vigilantes in S-East — Miyetti Allah
ENUGU — TO combat insecurity, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, has called for establishment of Fulani Youth Vigilante body in the South-East to complement those in their host communities’ and other constituted security apparatus in the zone.
The cattle breeders made the request just as the South-East governors told them that nobody in the zone was against cattle rearing but that it was paramount for everyone to understand that there are rules of engagement in every relationship, including that of herders and farmers.
President-General of apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo said the group would resist Fulani vigilantes in Igboland, while the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described the proposal as a provocative agenda.
In the same vein, the Nigeria Police Service Commission, PSC, lampooned the yearly recruitment of 10,000 policemen, saying the number was a far cry from the number of personnel needed to police the country.
These came as the 36 state governors of the federation late Wednesday night raised a committee to hammer out a common position on the clamour for state police.
MACBAN and security stakeholders spoke, yesterday, during the South-East Security Summit organized by the South-East Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture, SECCIMA, in collaboration with South-East Governors Forum, SEGF, in Enugu.
Speaking on how it affects herdsmen, National President of MACBAN, Alhaji Mohammadu Kirowa, regretted that once insecurity was mentioned in Nigeria, the first idea that came to mind was Fulani herdsmen.
Represented by the National Secretary, Alhaji Baba Usman Ngelzerma, MACBAN noted that South-East is a good host, which was the reason it condemned all forms of violence and criminality in the same manner patrons such as the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano and the Lamido of Adamawa did.
The group, however, said it wanted establishment of Fulani Youth Vigilante group, noting that the youth body would work with security agencies, the neighbourhood watch or vigilante to ensure security in all communities, as was done in Enugu State.
“We will solicit your support and cooperation in adopting dialogue where problems exist as a means of brokering peace and to report cases against our members to either the Fulani Youth Vigilante Group, state or local branch of the association,” Kirowa said.
In his remarks, Chairman of South-East Governors Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi, stated that the region would not engage in policy of exclusion to limit any farmer or herder, but stressed that rules of engagement should be observed in every relationship.
Umahi, was represented by his deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, said: “We will continue to accommodate the Miyetti Allah but our plea to them is that as we are magnanimous to allow settlers, every community has a custom that needs not to be violated. It is the violation that breeds problem.
“I believe that at the end, resolutions will generate further national dialogue, promote agenda-setting and a solution to the lingering national insecurity. All we need is the good idea of one or two men to find direction and I believe this summit will do that.”
Inadequate police personnel
The Commissioner in charge of Human Rights in the Police Service Commission, Mr. Rommy Mom, lamented the inadequacy of Police personnel, noting that at present, Nigeria could only boasts of fewer than 350, 000 police officers.
“This translates to 1.6 police officers to every 100,000 Nigerian, which is a far cry from the world standard of 225 police officers to every 100,000 people. In some local governments, you have less than 10 police officers.
“Lack of data is a major challenge, to the extent that even the Inspector General of Police is not very sure of the exact number of police officers under his command. Electronic data is very important,” Mon said.
He also stated that it was high time Nigeria embraced the use of Information Communication Technology, ICT, and other equipment to police the country.
Ohanaeze ‘ll resist Fulani Vigilantes in Igboland – Nwodo
Reacting to MACBAN’s call, Ohanaeze Ndigbo leader, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said Ndigbo will resist the proposal for the establishment of Fulani Youths Vigilante in Igboland.
Accusing the herdsmen of violating Igbo women in their farms, among other crimes, Nwodo noted that if such request was granted the herdsmen, it will spell doom for Igboland.
Nwodo said: “Ohanaeze vehemently opposes any attempt by Miyetti Allah to establish any form of vigilante group in Igboland.
“These are people who have ravaged our farms, raped our women and slaughtered their husbands. As at today, they technically enjoy immunity from arrest and prosecution. They freely display AK-47 rifles not permitted to be used by civilians.
“Extending this measure to them will turn them into an army of occupation and invite unavoidable confrontations with our youths. We will resist such a policy with every might available to us.”
It’s a provocative agenda —Afenifere
Reacting to the Miyetti Allah proposal, the pan-Yoruba socio-political orgnisation, Afenifere, described it as a provocative agenda.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, who described the call as an insult, said: “It is a provocative agenda which shows that there is a clear agenda to provoke war.
“The South East has come under the siege of marauding herdsmen with authorities in the land shying away from enforcing law and order.
“The height of it all is now this insulting call by Miyetti Allah. They should be careful how they poke their wicked fingers into the eyes of the people. The gentility of a lion is never a sign of cowardice.”
We’ll make our position on state police known soon —Govs
Meanwhile, the 36 state governors, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, said they would make their position on state police known soon, and raised a committee to discuss the issue and come up with a position.
The governors on Wednesday night, held its first meeting after the election of the leadership of the forum, with issues of security topping the agenda
The meeting which started at past 8pm at its Secretariat, Lake Chad, Maitama, Abuja, ended in the early hours of yesterday.
At the end of the meeting, the governors “resolved to set up a security committee at the National Economic Council level, NEC.”
The NEC, which consists of the 36 state governors, and governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, is the highest economic advisory body in the land and is presided over by the Vice-President.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who is chairman of the NGF, disclosed that the forum will soon make known its stand on the issue of state police, stressing that security is an issue of concern to citizens and the governors as well.
According to Fayemi, the Forum will “retain security as a recurring item on its agenda for the foreseeable future.”
He said: “We know that state police is an issue of interest and concern to the citizens and governors themselves and we will review it and make our position as a forum known soon.”
Fayemi also disclosed that the Forum resolved to re-launch its flagship State Peer Review Mechanism programme designed to assist states foster good governance and accelerate the rate of development through periodic reviews of progress made by state governments.
According to him, the forum has also agreed to hold a one-day interactive session with the World Bank and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on on-going development engagements across the states on June 26, 2019.
The governor added that the forum will also organise an IT retreat with the Joint Tax Board, JTB, and chairmen of internal revenue services of states.
Also on the agenda was update on Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, Guidelines on Local Government Funds.
It would be recalled that NFIU had issued a guideline which prevents state governments from making withdrawals from local governments’ funds.
The new guideline mandates financial institutions to distribute funds meant for local governments directly to them for development and not for other purposes, just as the guidelines also limit cash transactions in the accounts of local governments to a daily maximum of N500,000.
The meeting commenced at exactly 8.00pm with 22 states represented.
Present at the meeting were governors of Kano, Borno, Lagos, Kaduna, Sokoto, Ekiti,Kogi, Ogun, Plateau, Ondo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Ebonyi, Gombe, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Niger and Oyo.
Others were deputy governors of Enugu, Zamfara, Cross River, Imo and Katsina.