Ordinarily, the threat letter issued by a self-styled “Fulani Jihadists” group to attack Delta State should not merit more than an idle glance. The faceless group had pasted its threat letter in strategic places in Asaba and Agbor, including the perimeter walls of the Delta State Government House over the past fortnight.
Their complaint was that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa hosted the 17 state governors of Southern Nigeria where they issued the historic ban on open grazing across the region. They gave a three-day ultimatum for the governor to withdraw the ban or face terrorist attacks. The incoherently issued threat claimed that Fulani would not compromise on its “ownership of Nigeria and West Africa”.
Even though the Fulani ethnic group is not indigenous to the South, one of its chieftains had spuriously complained that their leaders were not “consulted” before the decision to institute the ban was taken.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government or presidency has not said a word to discourage these highly inciting claims by a group which had throughout the years been allowed to graze their cattle without paying tolls to boost the revenues of their host states. If anything, the Federal Government has of recent been embroiled in a war of words with other leaders over its support for open grazing ban.
We find it disturbing that the life of a law-abiding citizen, one Major Obinobe, is under threat for tipping off the police about the suspicious activities of suspected hoodlums planting explosives in the night. Since then, reports have it that lives of Obinobe and his family have been under threat from the said Jihadist group. This is undoubtedly a terrorist group that must no longer be ignored.
Already, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, has issued its own counter-threat to target people of Fulani stock for reprisal in Delta State and beyond. The jihadists have poisoned the security atmosphere in Delta State further. The state has been a focus of armed herdsmen’s attacks over the years, with access to farmlands in many parts of the state breached by the armed herders.
The group has also been unrelenting in its kidnappings, killings, raping and destruction of farmlands. They had also abducted and killed the traditional ruler of Ubulu-Uku, Obi Edward Akaeze Ofulue III in January 2016, and since then, the law enforcement agencies have failed to nab the perpetrators.
We reiterate our call for law enforcement agencies to root out these terrorists, bring them to book and allow law-abiding citizens to go about their lawful duties. Failing to do so is a call for anarchy and self-help. The ban on open grazing must be implemented to the letter to end the spate of unprovoked attacks on innocent indigenous populations.