Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has disagreed with Nobel Laurette, Professor Wole Soyinka, on his call for the Federal Government to declare Fulani herdsmen terrorists.
Reacting to Soyinka urging the Federal Government to declare as terrorists herdsmen responsible for attacks in states across the country, Bolaji argued that it would be an error to tag a people like the Fulani terrorists because of the actions of a few atrocious elements.
“I understand the sentiment behind his suggestions,” he told Daily Sun by telephone Thursday, adding: “but we need to be very careful not to criminalize an entire people just because of the criminal activities of a few.”
“Fulani herdsmen refers to a full tribe of men, a people – not a organization like Boko Haram. So to say that Fulani herdsmen should be proscribed just the way we proscribed Boko Haram is to fall into an error of conceptualization. It will be a conceptual error to categorise the Fulani herdsmen as an organisation,” he objected.
“It does not belong to that organisational category because they are a full tribe of people. It would be wrong to tag a whole tribe as terrorists; he (Soyinka) will not be happy if, for example, the Yoruba race [are labelled] as terrorists because of some people who are committing some atrocities, or to tag Igbo people terrorists because of few Igbo persons committing atrocities,” he insisted.
However, the national chairman of Young Progressives Party (YPP), Bishop Emmanuel Amakri, argued that considering the mayhem the herdsmen have unleashed in most communities, declaring them terrorists is long overdue.
“We need to put in actual perspective what ‘terrorist’ means and, in this case, I would say that for people, a group of people who have been unleashing attacks on people in every part of this country and whose trademark is bloodshed, killing everyday and slaughtering human beings in the manner of the ISIS terrorist group, declaring herdsmen as terrorists group is not something people should be debating,” he said.
“Having killed in one community or the other and unleashed mayhem on people mindlessly, the herdsmen have done enough damage to be declared terrorists. In fact, it is long overdue,” he said.
Proffering solution, the party boss added: “I want to however suggest that the security agencies need to increase intelligence gathering, even if it is going to cost them recruiting more young men and women that will gather information to unravel the menace of herdsmen.
“I want to also say that security should be everybody’s business. Whatever we can do to end the activities [of these] herdsmen, including declaring them terrorists, is a welcome development,” Bishop Emmanuel said.