National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Abdullahi Bello Bodejo has said that the South-West regional security outfit, Amotekun and its newly formed counterpart in the South-East, Ebube Agu are both targeted against the Fulani ethnic group.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the leader of the Fulani socio-cultural organisation stressed that governors seeking to ban open grazing are only daydreaming, noting that open grazing by Fulani herdsmen from state to state could never be stopped in Nigeria.
You were planning to set up a security outfit to protect the Fulani across the country. What happened to the plan?
If you are setting up a security outfit or organisation of this nature, the Federal Government has to be involved. Our Miyetti Allah Vigilance Group is still in the process, and we are delaying it, believing that the Federal Government, the Inspector General of Police, the Grand Khadi can stop all these small vigilance groups. For instance, what is causing the problem and the banditry in Zamfara and Katsina states is the local vigilantes that are just killing Fulani anyhow and the Fulani in turn carry out reprisals. We believe that Nigeria is one and as a Nigerian, wherever you see yourself or stay, you are a citizen. So, we are delaying it to watch if the police can adequately protect our lives and property.
The South-West has provided its own security, but they have forgotten that the police, the military, the DSS and other security agencies are there to protect them. To me, what they are doing is political and not security. They just see somebody loafing about, they enlist him into Amotekun. What are they securing? Nothing.
If the Federal Government doesn’t stop Amotekun and the one coming from the South-East, we will have no option than to roll out our own with over 5, 000 personnel in all the 36 states of the federation and Abuja to protect our Fulani people in the forests and bushes, whose lives are in danger. You can see how the Amotekun are killing our people in the South-West, as if they are having an agenda. I’m very much surprised the way they are taking the law into their hands.
You are complaining of Amotekun from the South-West, but the South-East is also coming up with its own security outfit – Ebube Agu.
There is no problem. If the Federal Government cannot stop them, then it is time to unveil our own under the umbrella of Miyetti Allah. Both Amotekun and the new one from the South-East, Ebube Agu, are targeted against the Fulani. Since it has come to this, our own security outfit is inevitable.
Since the aim of these two security outfits is to flush out bandits and other criminals in the forests that are giving Fulani people a bad image, can your security outfit partner with them in this direction?
We can’t join Miyetti Allah vigilantes with theirs because their agenda is to wipe out Fulani in those areas. We have seen it in the South-West. It is not about fighting bandits because the bandits are inside the forests. Let them go and face them, and not moving around the villages looking for Fulani persons to kill. We lost over 100 Fulani in the South-West, but we don’t have access to the media. Most people are not aware of this. After killing us, they are also damaging our names; they want people to see us in bad light as enemies to our hosts and enemies to other Nigerians. They say Fulani are bandits, Fulani are kidnapers, and Fulani are this and that. It is a lie. They are doing these things because of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is a Fulani. During the times of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and later Goodluck Jonathan, you couldn’t see or hear anybody mentioning and portraying Fulani in this negative manner. Go and look at the media reports during the periods of Obasanjo and Jonathan, you can’t see where Fulani went to attack people or communities. The issue now is that anybody who doesn’t play the Fulani card in the negative manner won’t be relevant politically or otherwise in his state or region.
We are not supporting any form of banditry or any person who goes to kill any person, whether you are Ijaw, Yoruba, Igbo, Tiv, Fulani or Hausa. However, the problem is that if there is any kidnap here, the police and other security agencies going after the suspects or abductors end up killing innocent Fulani. Then how can these people you just enlisted from the streets into Amotekun and the new one go and fight banditry? Where did they get their training? Our Miyetti Allah vigilantes can never join or partner with them. Even if we ask our members to join them, at the end of the day, they will come against them since their target is Fulani people.
I’m warning them to be very careful and stop killing Fulani. According to them, it is their forests, but they should remember that any forest in Nigeria belongs to Nigerians. Any forest in Nigerians is for every Nigerian, it doesn’t belong to an individual or to a community. Let them be very careful, our innocent Fulani are all over in Nigeria and in the South-West, South-East and South- South; they are doing their activities, their culture in the bushes and forests. We are warning these regional security outfits not to go and kill innocent Fulani. Not every Fulani is a bandit. As every tribe has evil people, so also Fulani. When they were set- ting up these regional security outfits, they didn’t invite Miyetti Allah. So we will not be part of them.
Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom is believed by many to be fighting for his people, but you have accused him of maligning the Fulani. Why?
I have a programme now, which is to visit the 36 states and Abuja to know the Fulani living in the various states and educate them not to get involved in any form of criminality or join bad gangs. We started with Adamawa State, where we also involved the police and other security agencies. It was after the programme that Governor Ortom started saying, ‘Miyetti Allah did this, and Miyetti Allah wanted to kill him…’
I’m surprised that a serving governor is telling lies. He lied to his people over the activities of Miyetti Allah, but at the end of the day the security people arrested Junkun people. That is the concern of the security agencies that know the truth. I call on Nigerians to ignore Governor Ortom over the way he is damaging the names of Fulani and our organisation. Our organisation has already dragged him to court over the antigrazing law. We went to court to order him to repeal the anti-grazing law. Before the court gives its judgment, we are urging him to remove that law because it is not bring- ing peace in Benue State. Tiv and Fulani are brothers and they have been doing business together for a long time. Tiv people have be- stowed an honour on me, but Ortom is mov- ing from one place to the other damaging our name. He is trying to make people see Miyetti Allah as a bad organisation. Our secretary and typist, Jennifer, is a Tiv girl from Gboko. I have a very good relationship with Tiv people.
These Southern governors are trying to join Ortom in damaging the image of Fulani. They don’t mean well for this country. As the governors have done one term and in the mid of their second term, they have start- ed playing politics by talking about fighting bandits and setting up security outfits when the police, military, DSS are there to tackle the bandits. I believe in one Nigeria; I believe that I can go to Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti and start rearing my cow business, but I’m surprised now over what is happening. Some of these people doing this and calling Fulani names don’t know the history of Nigeria. Before oil, Fulani were doing so much to contribute to make this country have resources, have money and be great. But somebody who doesn’t know the history of Nigeria will start talking down on the Fulani. Do you know the Fulani, go all over the states, all over the 774 local governments you can see Fulani people carrying out their business activities.
Benue has banned open grazing, South- west has done so too and then Southeast, what do say to this?
They are just day dreaming because nobody can ban open grazing. Because you are a governor, you can’t just wake up say, ‘I ban open grazing’ so that the Fulani herdsmen can’t see where to graze. These herds- men are all over inside the forests and nobody can know how many they are; they are so many. You can just deal with what you are seeing. These governors cannot because of politics be coming up with unacceptable policies. They will get tired very soon. These governors doing this are not performing in their respective states; you can’t see any tangible projects they are carrying out in their states for their people, but they want to do politics with Fulani name. It is not good and very soon they will be former governors, thereafter, the Fulani in their numbers will go back to their normal businesses.