Apart from the Boko Haram sect, the other group that constantly sheds innocent blood across the country is the Fulani herdsmen group. It is said to be the fourth most dreaded terrorist organisation in the world. In order to secure grazing land for their cattle, the Fulani herdsmen sack whole communities, burn their houses, rape their women, slaughter human beings in the most barbaric and sadistic manner, and take over their land as an army of occupation. Consequently, the farmers are prevented from working on their farms.
What bothers most Nigerians is the seeming helplessness of the Federal Government and its security personnel in curbing these herdsmen’s menace. For example, according to the Taraba State Government, the herdsmen kill and maim at will with their AK 47 guns and nobody arrests or disarms them. Rather, the locals that have only cutlasses and knives are being disarmed by the military. Some of the locals also alleged that the military personnel who are predominantly Hausa – Fulani, look the other way while the herdsmen attack them. The military has, however, denied that allegation. This has given rise to the conspiracy theory that the security operatives might be colluding with the herdsmen.
Why is it difficult for the government to deal with the Fulani herdsmen? Some reasons have been adduced. The rich and powerful Fulanis own the over 20 million heads of cattle valued in trillions of Naira. They include Emirs, top and influential politicians, military chieftains, business moguls, and religious leaders.
We can somehow understand why the government is dithering on the herdsmen’s menace. The cattle owners must allow their consciences to work at this time. Can’t they carry on their own business without displacing the farmers and shedding innocent blood? Spiritually speaking, any business that is tainted with human blood will yield blood money which is cursed money. So, the cattle owners should put their herdsmen on a short leash while exploring amicable solutions to the crisis. They should accept the vast expanse of grazing land offered by Gov. Ganduje of Kano State instead of fighting in places where land is in short supply. Why can’t they go for ranching as many experts have suggested?
The President is the only one who can stop these herdsmen’s menace. But he is faced with a conflict of interests. Can he wield a big stick against the blood-thirsty herdsmen without stepping on the big toes of his powerful kinsmen and thus losing face with them? On the other hand, he swore an oath before God and Nigerians to devote himself to the security and wellbeing of all Nigerians, not just his tribesmen alone.
If the President [Muhammadu Buhari - GW] wants to be remembered in history as a statesman, he must rise above ethnic interest and stop further bloodshed of the innocent by the Fulani herdsmen without further delay. He must disarm, arrest, prosecute and punish them severely according to law as a deterrent to other blood shedders. The Bible says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood by human shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind” (Gen. 9: 6). If blood shedders are treated with kid gloves for whatever reason, the President is ultimately answerable to God for the blood of the innocents under his watch.
(c) The Independent (Nigeria)