The war, when it begins, will be like all wars, senseless, destructive and lamentable. No one knows when and where it will begin, but it will begin as a convulsive reprisal for a massacre by Fulani herdsmen, a phenomenon that has now assumed all but a common occurrence in Nigeria.
The scale and frequency of massacres by Fulani herdsmen with not a single prosecution is the clearest evidence of what is known as impunity. Impunity is the reason the coming war is inescapable.
What can Nigeria be without the Fulanis? They are royalty. Among them are some of the most respected Nigerians, wise, reasonable, kind people. They control the Sokoto Caliphate or all that is left of that awesome empire. They exercise power at the Federal level over and beyond any other ethnic group in Nigeria. Indeed they are the architects of the Northern hegemony which they elevated to an ideology, a most potent instrument to hold on to power since Independence.
As the greatest beneficiaries of the Fulani Jihad it is not impossible that in their moments of hubris, the hegemonists among them might still nurse the ambition of the Caliph dipping the Koran in the sea. The classic Fulani herdsmen that we all know walk along their herd with a staff, not AK47s.
The enormity of the carnage in the Fulani herdsmen file is revolting:
On the 7th day of March 2010, Fulani herdsmen killed over 500 people in Jos, Plateau State. This report was a tie-back to the wave of killings on May 14, 2013 when the BBC reported that Fulani herdsmen have killed 53 in North Central Nigeria.
A few weeks later, the Nigerian Village Square Forum reports in a rather alarming tone “Tivs at Extinction Point: Fulani commence a killing spree.” That was on June 5, 2013.
On 8th of July 2013, it is reported that Fulani Herdsmen have killed 34 people in Benue State. Then on 26th November 2013 Jihadwatch reports that “Islamic Extremists kill at least 71 Christians in Nigeria…assailants were believed to be Muslim Fulani herdsmen.”
On 24th March 2014 Fulani herdsmen reportedly killed 36 people in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State A week later Fulani herdsmen were involved in sacking 33 villages, killing at least 19 people. A mention was made of a ‘Sultan Committee.’
On 7th May 2014, Fulani herdsmen killed 25 people and sacked six villages in Benue State. This was followed by the killing of 25 more people at Guma Local Government Area in Benue State. A month earlier, Human Rights Watch reported on 15th April 2014 that hundreds have been killed since December in North Central region and that an operation aimed at restoring peace is going on in Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau States.
On 11th February 2015 Fulani herdsmen were reported to have killed 30 persons in Benue State. On 11th March Fulani herdsmen did not spare the Tor Tiv’s palace even as they killed 11 persons. They killed 90 more on 16th March 2015 in a Benue village. On 12th April additional 12 persons, including children, were killed in Benue State. On 26th May 2015 more than 23 persons were killed in Benue State. Indeed, on 15th August 2015, the Benuenews.com.ng, a blog reported that between January and July 761 people have lost their lives to Fulani herdsmen.
The above incidents, taken from published reports, are but a sliver of these atrocities which have occurred in many other states in the Southern regions. In none of these instances was any of the perpetrators arrested, much less charged, tried or punished. So, the Fulani herdsmen operate as if they are licensed to kill. Then last week, the Fulani herdsmen grabbed a big fish in the person of Chief Olu Falae, 77, a former secretary to the Federal Government, a former presidential candidate, and an acknowledged leader of the Yoruba race. He has had troubles from the herdsmen in the past but last week they actually kidnapped him, mistreated him for days and forced his relations to pay them N5 million ransom.
So, the Afenifere group, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, had to hold an emergency meeting after which they declared that “nomadic cattle rearing should be stopped in every state of Yoruba land.”
Afenifere reaffirmed the Golden Rule, which re-echoes what most Nigerians have always felt about the provocations of the Fulani herdsmen. “Yoruba people go to any part of the country to trade, and there is no history or record anywhere the Yorubas destroy the business of their hosts. What we cannot do to others, nobody should do it to us.”They recalled the incident in the “year 2000 in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, the Fulani herdsmen and farmers had a major clash which led a strong delegation from Arewa Consultative Forum (Hausa-Fulani socio-political group) to storm the office of the then Governor Lam Adesina in a rowdy and angry manner on behalf of the Fulani.”
President Muhammadu Buhari was the leader of that angry delegation 15 years ago, and all eyes are watching, and all ears are listening. He can avert the coming war or he can fan it by pretending not to know that the herdsmen have created enough provocation that could lead to a major social upheaval.
– First published on October 2, 2015
The New Year massacre in Benue State was not the worst in the state’s history but it was most painful because it was a disaster foretold. On November 8, 2017, Benue State Leaders, Mdzough U. Tiv, Chief Engr. Edward I. Ujege, President General of the Tivs, Barrister Amale Adoya Amale, President General of the Idoma National Forum, and Chief Ode Enyi, President General of the Omi Ny’Igede dispatched an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the planned attack on Benue State by Myetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani socio-cultural organization.
The Benue leaders noted that “in more than five years, the Myetti Allah Kautal Hore sponsored herdsmen have carried about 40 major and deadly attacks in 14 of the 23 local government areas of Benue State. We have paid dearly for the atrocities of the herdsmen with over 2,000 lives of our men, women and children. Till date, over 500 persons are still missing while over 500,000 people were displaced and the future of almost a million youths truncated.”
“Similarly, over 900 households were affected in the various attacks carried out by the herdsmen while properties worth over N95 billion were destroyed in 2014 alone. Yet not a single person has been arrested or prosecuted for these dastardly acts.”