*Says they lack facts of crisis
*Discloses 99 Fulani killed too
*Our kinsmen are also S/Kaduna natives, not settlers’
*Asserts problem between farmers and Hausa, not Fulani
By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Editor
As a result of allegations and counter-allegations over what triggered the series of killings in Southern Kaduna in the last two weeks, Director, Media and Publicity of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association ,MACBAN, Kaduna State chapter, Ibrahim Bayero-Zango, in this interview, says the crisis has nothing to do with Fulani herdsmen. Bayero-Zango exclusively tells Sunday Vanguard that Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, is being economical with the truth, saying the crisis is between Southern Kaduna people and the Hausa.
In presenting the Fulani side of the story, he gave a blow-by-blow account of what they consider as the remote and immediate causes of the carnage. He dismisses the assertion by SOKAPU that land is the bone of contention, saying the Fulani are neither settlers nor strangers in Southern Kaduna as being claimed.
According to him, their presence in the area predates the 18th-century jihad of Shehu Usmanu Danfodiyo. Bayero-Zango’s story provides another understanding of the crisis that has claimed many lives and property.
A recurring narrative is the claim that Fulani herdsmen are responsible for the killings in Southern Kaduna. SOKAPU is blaming herdsmen. As a chieftain of MACBAN, is it true that your men are responsible for the bloodbath?
If they blame Fulani herdsmen or Miyetti Allah, they are running away from the truth. Herdsmen are no criminals neither are they attackers. They don’t have guns with them. Criminals are different from Fulani herdsmen. It is wrong to blame Fulani herdsmen whenever something of this nature happens.
Fulani herdsmen have never been criminals and they are not carrying weapons. They don’t attack anybody. The way these criminals are attacking other Nigerians is the manner they are also attacking Fulani herdsmen.
Before they attack any other tribe, they attack Fulani people because the Fulani are in the bush. Fulani herdsmen do not live in urban areas, making them prone to attacks by these criminals. Fulani herdsmen do not have a voice.
They are voiceless. That is why people are not hearing their cries. For SOKAPU, Christian Elders and Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in northern Nigeria or Kaduna State, to blame Fulani shows they are shifting blame. They should blame themselves.
All their grievances and problems are between them and the Hausa. It is political and not between them and Fulani. Unfortunately, when something happens, they give it religious coloration. When they attack Hausa, they attack Fulani because the Hausa and Fulani are Muslims.
That is where they got it wrong. They are fighting over farmlands, which has nothing to do with Fulani. They are fighting over political domination and no Fulani man is contesting any position in Southern Kaduna. The Fulani man is after greener pastures.
The average nomadic Fulani man in Nigeria values grasses more than land. The Fulani people in Bayelsa today live peacefully more than the Fulani in Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Benue and Taraba.
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The Fulani in Anambra, Enugu and Imo live peacefully more than the ones in Southern Kaduna, Benue, Taraba and Plateau. In Edo and Delta states, Fulani men graze peacefully inside the forests as citizens of this country.
And they are living in peace with their neighboring communities. Here, because of political interests, the Fulani are accused. It is because the Southern Kaduna people are shying away from the truth. We are not happy that they are involving the Fulani in this crisis.
They kill our people and still accuse us of killing them. For instance in 1992, in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area, only three Fulani houses were attacked during the crisis that engulfed the area. In Kwaku, Alhaji Arua and his son, Alhaji Yakubu, and one other person in Ungwan Bororo were killed. Many Fulani were killed in that crisis which started on a Friday.
Most of our parents used to go to Zangon Urban for prayers and they attacked the town when they went there for prayers. Seven of my uncles were among those killed. One of them, his house is at Kwaku District; nobody attacked the house until last June. His son, Ado Jamo, who was the Ado, Fulani word for leader, was killed on June 12, 2020. His mother, stepmother and two younger brothers were killed.
Their houses were burnt down. The same thing happened at Ungwan Gaya, Sabon Kaura, Gora and many places. Apart from that, they also attacked pastoralists who were moving from the South to the North in May/June. When it is October/November, they move down to the South. When they attacked Fulani last June, it was surprising because the issue that led to the attack had nothing to do with the Fulani.
Could that be the crisis that resulted in the latest carnage?
They were fighting over farmland and no Fulani house is near farmland. The quarrel was between the Kataf and Hausa people. It had nothing to do with the Fulani. Why would they start killing Fulani people? The chief of Kataf, Agwa Atyap, is not helping matters. When they started killing Fulani and Hausa people, and waylaying people on the highways, he said nothing.
The people that were killed, none of their corpses has been recovered to date. When security operatives visited him to know the true situation, he said there was no crisis in his domain. But a few meters away from his house, two Fulani houses at Ungwan Gaya were burnt down while four people lost their lives.
Their corpses were still there when he was saying that people only protested on the roads. Is it fair? People were dying and he was pretending that nothing happened? And these trans-human pastoralists were moving to parts of Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa, Plateau and Jigawa. It is an annual movement that is known to everyone.
Up till now, some of the people who were killed, their cows are inside the bush and no one can afford to enter the bush to find them. If they see a Fulani man, they would kill him. There are plenty cows inside the bush in Atyap Kingdom. Now, they are accusing the Fulani, is that not blame-shifting? We don’t even aspire to be a councilor, House of Assembly member, or even local government chairman.
So why are they accusing the Fulani?
There are political issues between the Southern Kaduna people and the All Progressives Congress, APC. They, Southern Kaduna people, belong to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. If they are fighting Governor El-rufai, what is our business there? Does the fact that the Fulani and Hausa voted for El-rufai make the Fulani people criminals? Don’t we have the right to make our choice?
In 2011, when they voted for the late Governor Yakowa, our people voted for Haruna Said of defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. There was post-election violence. People in Kaduna Urban and the northern part were fighting, but in Southern Kaduna, they termed it a religious crisis and sacked almost 15 Muslim-dominated villages.
The areas affected include Zonkwoa, Masiriga, Walijo, Kamuru Ikulu, Maraban Walijo and Sabon Gari Kwoi. A few people who escaped are now taking refuge in Kagarko and Saminaka. Even Kagoro town was attacked. The present chief of Kagoro went to Saminaka to beg those who escaped to come back to Kagoro. All these people that were killed and chased out because of political crisis, their votes counted during that election. Who voted? Is it fair to kill people because they want to be in power? They should not be blaming Fulani.
What role does indigene/settler issue play in this crisis?
Whatever is happening, in the history of Southern Kaduna, we are the indigenous Fulani of Southern Kaduna. We have never had a problem with any tribe in Southern Kaduna. They too can attest to this and they will never say that they know the day the Fulani people came to Southern Kaduna. They saw us there and we saw them there. We have been there for donkey years. Before the jihadists came to Sokoto, we were in Southern Kaduna.
But they are claiming to be the natives…
We are also natives. They are not older than us in that area. In Southern Kaduna, the oldest person will tell you that we have all been together for ages. In the 1940s, a group of people came to attack the Kagoro people. When they were on a hill, the Fulani gathered and defended them. The Fulani helped them to defeat the attackers.
We were living in peace with them. Unfortunately, they ventured into the killing of innocent people because of vested interests. We the indigenous Fulani do not have a problem. But the families of pastoral Fulani, who they are killing, are the people avenging.
Why did the Southern Kaduna people attack them in the first place? What was their crime? If you have a problem with your neighbor, sort it out instead of using religion as an excuse to kill. If you use religion, you are not fair.
What about the claim that the Fulani in Southern Kaduna connive with Fulani mercenaries to attack Southern Kaduna villages?
That is not true. We don’t know if any Fulani militia exists there. These criminals attacking people anyhow are the same criminals attacking people in Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, Birnin Gwari, and Igabi Local Government Area among others. Instead of them to call us so that we all can join hands together to find a solution, they are blaming us.
We are also victims of those criminals. We are not colluding with anybody. For instance, before the criminals steal two of the bulls the Southern Kaduna people are using for farming, they must have rustled more than 100 cows belonging to Fulani. And when such happens, they start blaming the entire Fulani. That is unjust. These criminals do not have religion or tribe.
Whenever they are arrested, we discover that there is no tribe that is not involved, even southerners are among them. Some are even helping them to provide arms. Who are the gunrunners taking ammunitions to the criminals in the forests? People should find out.
Almost every tribe is involved, but those criminals do not represent their tribes and religions. They represent themselves as criminals. People should call them what they are. Because a Fulani man is found among them does not warrant saying that all Fulani are bad. Their people are also involved in all these social vices. They should stop tribalising criminals. If they are criminals, they are criminals. If they are attackers, they are attackers, if they are kidnappers, they are kidnappers.
From your account, the Fulani are also victims, but in many narratives, they are portrayed as villains. Why is it so?
The Fulani do not tell their story because we don’t have access to the media like the Southern Kaduna people. Our people are too typical. Our people are defenceless and voiceless. We don’t have enough elites, we don’t have police and we don’t have many journalists who could state our plight. Our people are just typical herdsmen who live in the forests. All they know is to rear their cattle, eat and live.
They don’t know how to carry out media propaganda. Even the governor said the Fulani they are accusing do not talk when they are killed. But when they carry out a retaliatory attack, people start making noise. And the Fulani would not forgive you for killing them, because they don’t know what offence they have committed to have warranted the killings. If Southern Kaduna people have a problem with the Hausa, it should be between them and not the Fulani.
The larger communities and constituencies belong to both of them, Hausa and Southern Kaduna. What is the business of the Fulani man in that? Because we are voiceless, they are blaming us all the time. When we addressed a press conference last June on the incident, they started castigating us, saying we were lying. Now, that the victims’ families are retaliating they are calling it genocide. But when they were killing those they killed, did they talk?
We even called on government to take proactive measures, which they did. But security is limited to highways and villages. In remote areas, there is no security. Our people are in remote areas where there is no security. Such a situation makes us defenceless.
Since you have established that the Fulani are also victims of the Southern Kaduna crisis, can you count the cost on the side of the Fulani?
Last June, we lost 99 people in the Zangon Kataf crisis in Atyap Kingdom. We lost over 2, 000 cows. Some are still missing. Some were killed and burnt. Our houses were destroyed. There was a reprisal that happened in Kukum in Kaura Local Government Area last February. Kukum is very close to Masiriga in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area.
Kukum is in Kaura Local Government Area. There was a problem between two people in Masiriga, The feuding parties are of the same tribe, Baju. There was a court case and one won. The person who lost was angry, saying the man who won bought the judgment.
He went to the man’s house to kill him at night but didn’t meet the man. He killed the man’s two children who he met. The next day, people said it was the Fulani who came and killed the man’s children. Baju people in that area said it wasn’t Fulani people that killed but a Baju man.
Even the person who committed the crime said he was the one who did it. Baju people in the area protected the Fulani people against any attack, but the people of Kukum, who are Kagoro by tribe, started killing Fulani people in Kukum. They killed eight Fulani people while 80 cows got missing. Last Sunday, the victims’ families carried out retaliatory attack and the Southern Kaduna people started making noise. I have the pictures of the cows they killed when Southern Kaduna people first attacked the Fulani.
In another incident very close to Garaji, Fulani people from Gombe State were passing and stopped over at a filling station to refill their vehicle only for these people to attack the vehicle and burnt the passengers inside. They were killed because they were Fulani. Their members didn’t waste time to retaliate. That is why Southern Kaduna people are making noise. But why did they start the crisis by killing innocent people?
You killed people and their members retaliated, but you keep on blaming the government. Yesterday, a reverend told us that those who killed Fulani people at the filling station were Christians. And those who killed Christians in that community must be Muslims. Whether they are Fulani or not, we don’t even know. This crisis is purely a product of the killing of innocent people. Did the people who retaliated go to Masiriga?
They didn’t because Masiriga people didn’t kill anybody. They went to Kukum where their people were killed. Now, even Ohanaeze, Afenifere, and Yoruba elders are talking because the Southern Kaduna people have given it political colors.
They are supporting Southern Kaduna people because they do not know the true story. Instead of finding out what is happening, they are talking because of the falsehood that the Fulani are killing Christians in Southern Kaduna.
For that reason, every southern Christian is concerned. If there is a problem, Southern Kaduna people should stop waylaying and killing people on the highway. The travelers they are killing are innocent. Do you think their people would leave you for killing their person for no cause? What they are doing is causing more harm than good, because it is not a remedy. If people attack you, take legal action instead of killing people.
How true is the claim that the Fulani sack communities and take over the places?
They should name the community that has been sacked, claimed and renamed. In Ungwan Rimi Baju, the village of the SOKAPU President, Muslims were killed during the 2011 post-election crisis. He didn’t talk. Nobody said anything and the community is living in peace to date. Saying that the Fulani are invading and sacking communities is wrong.
The arguments are baseless. Southern Kaduna people are even the ones coming from the remote areas to the towns because all the historical towns in Southern Kaduna are being inhabited by the Hausa. All these Southern Kaduna tribes were in remote areas.
They are now coming to civilization. Is there any Kataf village that is older than Zango Urban? The District Head has been in that community since the time of the colonial masters.
Zangon Kataf Local Government Area was under the district for donkey years. Where did Southern Kaduna people get civilisation? They got it from the Hausa. Before western civilisation, the civilisation in the North was Egyptian. But the southern part of the country got its own from western powers.
Your submissions show that you are desirous of peace. How can a lasting solution be achieved?
There can only be peace when all the tribes in Southern Kaduna stop considering us as second class citizens or foreigners in the area. We are not. They know we are not foreigners. They know that they are not more Southern Kaduna than us.
They know they are not more indigenous than us. Because our people did not obtain western education does not mean we should be treated as if we are just coming. We are no newcomers there.
In what could be termed an expression of hopelessness, the army, last Tuesday, said it lacked the required manpower to provide security in the troubled areas. To an extent, the statement justified reports in many quarters that Southern Kaduna lacks security. What is Miyetti Allah’s proposing in this regard?
The communities should be brought together to form community guards. The guards should represent all the people living in the area. They should come together and form a vigilante group that comprises of every tribe in the area.
They should not take more Kagoro, more Baju or more Fulani. They should take equal numbers so there won’t be suspicions. They should work hand-in-hand with security agencies.
Does the idea of a peace and reconciliation committee on the matter appeal to you?
It is a very good idea. There should be a sincerity of purpose. There should be a level-playing field for everyone in the committee. We can’t object to such an idea because we are a peace-loving community. The people of Southern Kaduna should be asked if there is any community that has ever had any problem with Fulani among the 53 Southern Kaduna tribes that are predominantly Christians. The answer is no.
It is because we are not lazy. We are productive. For instance, in Jabba community where the people are ginger farmers, they can’t do without Fulani people. In dry season, they beg the Fulani to come to their land to make it fertile for cultivation. They even pay Fulani to stay in their farms and make Fulani huts for the herdsmen to live.
During rainy season, the Fulani leave after making the land fertile. Our people are the most peaceful in Southern Kaduna. If a peace and reconciliation committee that would represent every interest would be set up, we are in support of it.