SOMEHOW, President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration seem to indulge in avoidable controversies. And the more negative such is, the deeper and more regular is the involvement. Typical is the ever-growing influence and pam- pering of Fulanis in the scheme of things in Nigeria.
Such is that perception among Nige- rians that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had to rightly or wrongly raise the alarm on alleged plot to “Fulanise
and Islamise” Nigeria. The disturbing aspect was not the truth or falsehood of the allegation but that Buhari himself, either by commission or omission, is ever touchy on anything Fulani. Hardly does any other group or issue trigger govern- ment’s concern, no matter how their rights under the constitution are violated by the various state governments. What is more, why should Nigerian government be concerned about upholding the rights of foreign (Fulani) criminals in Nigeria? It is akin to upholding ISIS mercenaries among Boko Haram insurgents. Very of- ten and partly conveniently, Nigerians are told that Fulani criminals on the rampage all over the place are non-Nigerians. Is that, therefore, a licence to endanger the lives of Nigerians within their country?
Even if the culprit Fulanis were Nigeri- ans, that should not earn them the status of special species to be favourably treated by Nigerian government. Put in another way, are almajiris any less Nigerians de- serving assertion and protection of their fundamental human rights guaranteed under the constitution? Before almajiris were denied their rights, even beggars and vagrants who, notwithstanding the fact of their status as the wretched of society, remain fellow Nigerians whose fundamental human rights must be pro- tected by Nigerian government.
Lagos State government set the dangerous pace by humiliating beggars
at Kano Street, Ebute Metta, Lagos, and ‘deporting’ them to their various states
of origin in different parts of northern Nigeria. The plight and misfortune as well as the ill-treatment of the deported beggars by Lagos State government were repeatedly highlighted in this column as poor fellow Nigerians urgently requiring Federal Government protection of their constitutional rights violated by Lagos State government. Till today, there is no response from the Federal Government. Begging may be socially and economi- cally degrading but it is not criminal and poses no threat to fellow Nigerians. Even beggars have rights under the constitu- tion to engage in their unenviable but pitiable trade in any part of Nigeria. That is the law and, when maliciously violated by Lagos State government, the victims were maliciously abandoned by Federal Government, the same constant and ever- ready protector of Fulani interests, even foreign Fulanis in Nigeria.
If in doubt, the same Lagos State government expelled vagrants to their South-East origins, in total violation of their right of abode in and to move to any part of Nigeria as guaranteed under the constitution. This particular deportation of southeasterners was careless self- depreciating political naivety by an APC
Lagos State government whose party was wooing southeastern voters on the eve of a presidential election. Despite the con- cerns expressed in this column several times on the illegal deportation of south- easterns in violation of their rights under the constitution to live and earn daily bread in any part of Nigeria, the Federal Government was unconcerned and no government in the entire South-East spoke for the deportees. Was it the case that no South-West beggars or vagrants were in Lagos at that time or were they ever deported?
What is clear is that, were the north- ern beggars and southeastern vagrants expelled from Lagos of Fulani origin, Federal Government would have asserted their constitutional right to reside in and move freely to any part of Nigeria. What is so special about Fulanis (foreign or Ni- gerian) to warrant Federal Government’s concern for their interests every time and on any issue?
So sure of Federal Government’s
policy of specially protecting the rights of Fulani, Kaduna State government, over- night, decided to expel almajiris to their state of origin. These were fellow north- erners and fellow Nigerians. And the reason for expelling the almajiris to Kano, their state of origin? Convenient excuse, without any proof of constituting corovi- rus health risk. Obviously, in addition to, without saying so, being non-indigenes and being at the lowest rung of the socio- economic order. Where in the world, in the current coronavirus-ridden crisis, are non-indigenes of parts of any country dislocated to their own parts of the coun- try? English, Scots, Welsh or Irish ever expelled to their parts of United Kingdom on account of constituting health hazard? Ashantis expelled from Gas in Ghana? Nigerian-Americans, British-Americans, Italian-Americans, French-Americans or Spanish-Americans, German-Americans or Irish-Americans to be expelled from any state in United States to their areas
of strong location in the country? Never. The country’s Supreme Court would nullify such blatant discrimination within days.
Federal Government’s failure to inter- vene on behalf of the almajiris expelled from Kaduna to Kano State encouraged Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to expel almajiris from that state to Jigawa State, for no reasons other than being almajiris, rather than Fulani. Again, despite criti- cisms of the expulsions in this column, the Federal Government showed neither interest nor concern till today. Could it be because the almajiris expelled from Kaduna and Kano were not Fulanis as was to happen in Ondo?
Uprooted from Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa and with nobody to champion their cause as would happen in the case of Fulanis, the poor almajiris headed
in droves to the southern parts of the country, still in excercise of their right under Nigerian constitution to move
to, reside, own property or earn a living in any part of Nigeria. Suddenly, all 17 southern states commenced raising the alarm seemingly at the invasion of en- emies within the same country. Till today, Federal Government uttered no word in
defence of the rights of almajiris, despite the concern repeatedly expressed in this column on behalf of the almajiris. Could it be because almajiris are not Fulanis and, therefore, must be left unprotected when their fundamental human rights were being violated by northern and southern states?
If, therefore, Ondo State government joined its Lagos, Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa counterparts in expelling Fulanis (as against almajiris), what moral right has the Federal Government to raise concerns on the violation of Fulanis’ human rights to reside in, move about and trade in any part of Nigeria as they may choose? If Ondo State government had expelled beg- gars and almajiris, Federal Government, from its record above, would have been unconcerned. What is more, Ondo State
State governments experiencing the
of the Fulani herders, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Ekiti, Edo, Niger Delta and others, must put in place stern measures to contain these fellows, especially the so-called foreigners among the Fulanis. The distinction between law-abiding Fulanis in different parts of Nigeria on one part and the Fulani criminals should be respected.”
government did not even expel the Fula- nis. All the government did was to restrict Fulani herders/murderers, quite rightly too, from government reserved forests, failing which government compelled them to register with specified appropri- ate government agency with the aim of tracing the criminals among suspected Fulani culprits. What is wrong with that? Is the Federal Government not currently compelling Nigerians to register for national identity partly to assist in tracing criminals, as we have been told?
Furthermore, Ondo State government wouldn’t be the first to order registration. Similarly faced with a deluge of untrace- able criminals, Lagos State government operates compulsory registration for resi- dents on a continuous basis, an exercise which proved handy in providing pallia- tives in the early days of the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Owing to Federal Government’s delib- erate or inadvertent policy of specially protecting and/or enhancing particular interest, Fulanis, perhaps foreign Fulanis in Nigeria, arrogantly give the impression of not only being above the law but also that they must have their way, no matter the serious misgivings of indigenous Nigerians. Before the ink with which a peace agreement was hurriedly signed between Ondo State government and the aggressors could dry up, another Fulani attacked an innocent local woman around her farm at Oru, near Ijebu-Igbo in Ogun State. Although she was lucky to escape, yet the poor woman had her right thumb almost severed while her jaw was broken. She is still receiving treatment. Why has the Federal Government not spoken on the incident or the woman’s right to pur- sue her farming business as guaranteed under Nigerian constitution?
Above all, we seem to have forgotten how it started in Benue State, where Fula- nis went on murderous rampage and, on an occasion, left scores killed under the excuse of pursuing legitimate business interests. President Buhari, at the height of the tension, deployed a serving Police Inspector-General to Benue to contain the situation. The nation was shocked when, on an eventual condolence visit, Buhari was told by Benue State Governor Sam Ortom that the police boss aban- doned his command post after less than seven hours. Buhari said he was learning of that for the first and that he would investigate. Any outcome of that investi- gation till today? So, killings by Fulanis continue.
What is the difference in the murder- ous activities of the two terrorist groups, Boko Haram insurgents and the criminal Fulani herders? As the Boko Haram insurgents are bombed out of existence, so also should the Fulani killers all over Nigeria. That is why state governments experiencing the killing propensities of the Fulani herders, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Ekiti, Edo, Niger Delta and others, must put in place stern measures to contain these fellows, especially the so- called foreigners among the Fulanis.
The distinction between law-abiding Fulanis in different parts of Nigeria on one part and the Fulani criminals should be respect