The umbrella body for herdsmen in Nigeria, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, has warned critics to stop calling them terrorists because they have not breached any section of Nigeria’s constitution. Speaking with VINCENT KALU, spokesman of the breeders association, Ismaila Ibrahim Ribeji, said unlike the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that was proscribed and declared a terrorist organisation by the Federal Government for trying to create a separate country from Nigeria, which was a constitutional breach, the herdsmen have not done anything to warrant branding them terrorists.
In an interview with Gen. Momah, a retired military officer and former principal staff officer to President Buhari, said the Fulani herdsmen are terrorists and they deserve to be treated as such. How do you react to that?
The Fulani herdsmen are not terrorists and should not be declared as such. Some people are camouflaging the Fulani to commit atrocities. Security personnel have arrested people in Fulani attire committing havoc. This happened in Taraba and other states, where security men arrested people putting on Fulani outfits to attack communities, but people would attribute them to Fulani.
There are some nomads, who are very good and concentrating on what they are doing, and they are not committing any offence. Those who are clamouring for the declaration of Fulani herdsmen as terrorists are not fair; the herdsmen are not terrorists. Not all the herdsmen are committing atrocities, in every tribe or organisation, there are bad eggs and there are good people.
It is not fair to the Fulani if herdsmen are declared terrorists. Nigeria has a constitution, and there is no way the cattle rearers are doing anything contrary to the constitution or committing crimes like Boko Haram and other international organisations.
Fulani herdsmen in terms of western education are not measuring up, but they are not creating any problem that should warrant branding them terrorists.
I’m not saying that some Fulani herdsmen are not involved in the killings going on in some states, but as stated earlier, in every tribe, there are bad people. It is not only in Fulani that you have some bad people, they abound in every tribe. Every tribe in Nigeria has some good people as well as some bad people. Majority of the herdsmen are very good and law abiding.
I don’t know why Buhari declared IPOB terrorist, but I want everybody to understand that herdsmen are not terrorists. It is not all of them that are committing crime. I’m not blind to say that some of the herdsmen are not involved in the killings, just like other tribes are also involved in the killings.
What the retired General said is that IPOB that didn’t carry arms and didn’t kill anybody, but Buhari declared it terrorist and proscribed it, while he left the Fulani herdsmen that have killed hundreds of people…
It has to do with the constitution of the country. The Fulani are scattered not only in Nigeria, but also in Africa and other parts of the world, but if you consider the Nigerian state, I don’t think there is any state where the Fulani organised themselves and say they were going to fight the government and declare their own country. But in some states, IPOB has said they were marginalised and they have organised themselves and said they were going to declare their own country.
So the Biafra people were trying to declare for themselves an independent nation, why the Fulani people have not declared themselves an independent nation, not even a local government. If you look at the Nigeria constitution, anybody who tries to organise a coup plot or people looking for another country from the Nigeria state, there is a punishment. I don’t think that there is any part of the country that the Fulani have declared their own state, but those people have carved their states, and said it is their own nation, and the government saw that it was a breach of the law of the nation and no group was supposed to behave in that way The Fulani are not doing that.
Those displaced from the eleven villages in Plateau State, and are in the IDPs, are alleging that the herdsmen have taken over their villages and even living in their houses and gracing on their farms, while the security agencies look the other way. What have you to say on this?
It is not true. Are the herdsmen more powerful than the security agencies in the country? The law enforcement agencies are there, and nobody is above the law. Anybody whether Fulani or not that does anything that goes contrary to the constitution of Nigeria there, the security people are there to deal with such a person. There is nobody above the law, and this country has a laid down constitution.