Fulani Militias, Ethnic Profiling and Raging Killings

This Day 

By Yemi Adebowale

In the last few days, I have been having cerebral discussions with some of my readers with Fulani background who accuse the press and some other Nigerians of ethnic profiling whenever they refer to killer herders/militias terrorizing the entire country as Fulanis. I have a lot of such Fulani friends; good and law-abiding people. One of them, Abdulkadir Saleh, roared last Tuesday: “Yemi, stop referring to these militias as Fulanis. Criminals are criminals; you don’t have to call them Fulanis to report their atrocities.” I have done a lot of checks on the meaning of “ethnic profiling.” The one I found compelling says, “Ethnic profiling is the act of suspecting or targeting a person on the basis of assumed characteristics or behaviour of a racial or ethnic group, rather than on individual suspicion.”

This definition appropriately clears the grey areas. The Nigerian press and the rest of the country do not view the entire Fulani race as criminals. Targeting anybody as a criminal on the basis of the assumed characteristics of the ethnic group does not arise. During the visit of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, militias dominant in the North openly confirmed that they are Fulanis and the much-talked about bandits ravaging the entire country. They complained that their cattle are persistently rustled without compensation from government, and so, they took up arms. They are the Fulani militias who claim to be fighting for the interest of herders, but engage in all sorts of criminalities, including kidnapping for ransom, robbery, and killing of innocent Nigerians. Calling them Fulani militias/killer herders/Fulani kidnappers is a fact but it does not make all Fulanis criminals. It does not in any way amount to ethnic profiling based on the definition above.
Down South, security agencies empirically prove and are regularly showing the public that majority of attacks on farmers and kidnapping for ransom are carried out by people with Fulani background. The facts and figures are conspicuous. When the police in Ondo State nabbed the killers of Funke Olakunrin, the second daughter of Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti, they turned out to be Fulani herdsmen – Lawal Mazaje, Adamu Adamu, Mohammed Shehu Usman and Auwal Abubakar. The police established sufficient physical and forensic evidence linking the suspects to the killing of Mrs Olakunrin. The survivor gave a clear description of the roles each of the identified suspects played in the killing. At this point, the suspects capitulated and voluntarily offered a no-holds-barred confession.
When police arrested killers of some natives in Nimbo community, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, they were people with Fulani background – Mohammed Zurai, Ciroma Musa, Sale Adamu, Suleiman Laute and Haruna Laute.

The police who picked up the suspects that abducted the former secretary to the government of the federation, Olu Falae, told the nation that “six suspected Fulani herdsmen” did the job.

Last Monday, when the Oyo State Police Command paraded three of the suspected killers of businessman/farmer, Dr. Oluwole Agboola, they turned out to be Fulanis – Dahiru Usman, Muhammed Ahmadu, and Ibrahim Mamuda. They openly confirmed they are Fulanis. Dressed in military camouflage, six of them abducted the University of Ibadan graduate on his piggery/fish farm located at Adegbade village via Aba-odo in Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo on December 28, last year. His remains were recovered from the bush on January 11, ten days after ransom was paid by the family.

In a recent response to violent attacks across Nigeria, the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said that many herdsmen are undergoing trials in several parts of the country for alleged killings and criminal activities. Garba, who spoke on a television programme last Monday, added: “I hope the headquarters of the police will take responsibility and publish the full list of Fulani herders who are undergoing trials in various states particularly in Benue State. Trials are going on, convictions have been made and the president cannot be complicit. It is very uncharitable. The president cannot be complicit in the kinds of things being said of him.” Note that Garba used “Fulani herders.”

Also in a presentation at a stakeholders meeting in Abeokuta on Tuesday, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje noted:“The Fulani herdsmen’s problem is an old story.” Note the use of “Fulani herdsmen.”
The press and other Nigerians attaching “Fulani” to these killers are just saying the truth; the whole truth. There is no ethnic profiling here. There is also no point living in denial. These bad herders have Fulani background. The good Fulanis (herders and non-herders), who are in majority, should help expose these bad guys among them instead of this talk about ethnic profiling. Thousands of other law abiding Fulanis are living peacefully among other Nigerians unhindered by the crimes of few ones.

On the flip side, the Buhari government must stop treating Fulani militias with kid gloves; else, the pain being inflicted by these people across the nation will persist. Revelation by cleric, Ahmad Gumi that the militias are gathering money to acquire anti-aircraft missiles to repel attacks from security forces is worrisome. The Islamic scholar, who recently met with some of the terrorists in their strongholds in Zamfara and Kaduna states’ forests, said the operations of the militias “are fast developing into a full-blown insurgency” and should be stopped immediately.

He said: “These people are the first victims of cattle rustling, who lost all their cattle to rustlers because then, the rustlers were having the guns. Then when they lost their cattle, they joined the rustlers and they started to kidnap people. In fact, most of the kidnappings they are doing are to acquire weapons. They are now trying to buy missiles, anti-aircraft missiles.”

The cleric also revealed that the bandits have informants in the armed forces: “They have collaborators everywhere – in the armed forces, everywhere. One of them said, ‘even this cattle rustling, we don’t have trailers to transport cattle to where they are slaughtered. We don’t have an abattoir.’ So, there are people collaborating with them.”

The number of these militias and the quantity of arms/ammunitions in their hands in different camps across North-west and North-central are on the rise. They are also becoming dominant in the South. They enter communities in hundreds with highly sophisticated weapons and overwhelm security agents/local vigilantes easily. This was what happened when Fulani militias entered Kusherki, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State last Tuesday. They killed the village head, the Dakacin Kusherki, Masud Abubakar, and kidnapped his wife. They proceeded to Munya Local Government Area, where 10 other innocent people were killed and 23 other villagers abducted. Over 100 of them invaded the communities in Rafi and Munya LGAs on motorcycles armed with AK47 rifles and other dangerous weapons. They rode from village to village, shooting sporadically.

Two days earlier, the militias operating in Rafi Local Government were on the Tegina-Zungeru highway. They forced a bus belonging to the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) to stop and abducted 21 people. They even released a video showing the 21 commuters while demanding a N500 million ransom.

Last Tuesday, the militias also entered Government Science School, Kagara, Niger State in hundreds and abducted 27 students, three staff and 12 others. They were dressed in military uniforms. Yes, military uniforms. A student was killed during the attack.

Another set of militias on Wednesday attacked communities in Gurmana Ward of Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State. As usual, they came in hundreds, riding motorcycles and shooting sporadically, while attacking Sarkin Zama, Bakin Kogi (Lagbe), Siyiko and other adjoining communities. 30 people were abducted while scores were killed.

Troops of the 271 Nigerian Air Force in Kaduna, who confronted the Fulani militias on February 13 at Ungwan Laya, near Birnin Gwari, confirmed that their men came face to face with over 100 militias. NAF lost six young men to the killers during the battle.

Abductions across our country are unending because the criminals are hardly punished. For example, the Fulani militias that abducted the Kankara schoolboys last December and Boko Haram terrorists that abducted Dapchi schoolgirls in 2019 are yet to be arrested and put on trial. The Buhari government is playing with fire and must stop treating these militias/terrorists with kid gloves.

Abduction has become big business, with even government at all levels paying huge money to kidnappers. Governments must stop paying kidnappers. The talks about granting amnesty to militias and giving them money is also balderdash. The only way to end this madness is to go after these militias with full force and kill them. They have tasted too much money and blood and will never drop their guns. The Buhari government must give clear instructions with deadlines to security agencies to do the needful. These people must be taken out.

A Word for Ahmad Lawan

My dear Senate President, you will agree with me that rewarding failure should end in our dear country if we truly desire joining the club of developed countries. Nigeria has been lagging far behind other countries because our governments at all levels often reward failure. This is precisely what President Buhari is aiming to do by nominating former service chiefs as non-career ambassadors to Nigeria’s foreign missions. You and your colleagues in the Senate must not allow this to happen. To confirm former service chiefs as non-career ambassadors would amount to mocking traumatised Nigerians.

Abayomi Olonisakin, Tukur Buratai, Ibok-Ete Ibas, Sadique Abubakar and Mohammed Usman failed this country woefully. They were in charge for almost six years and watched Boko Haram, killer herders, kidnappers and bandits slaughter thousands of Nigerians, unhindered. Buratai and the others are evidently not qualified to represent this country abroad. Senators must save the country the embarrassment of rewarding mediocrity.Lawan, deep down, you know there are no credible things that would have warranted Buratai and others to be named ambassadors. These are men that should be on trial for a number of atrocities in the war against terrorism.

Confirming them will also amount to the Senate indicting itself. Thrice in 2020, the Senate asked Buhari to sack these guys for ineptitude. Senators said they were bereft of ideas to tackle raging killings across the country. You can’t turn round and confirm them as capable of representing this country abroad. As the representatives of Nigerians, you and your colleagues must stand with the people by rejecting Buratai and the other conspirators. While their reign lasted, they conspired against Nigeria.

The Shasha Market Imbroglio

It is very painful that human live was lost in the ethnic-inspired fight among traders at Shasha market in Ibadan. My heart and prayers are still with those who suffered in the mayhem of February 12. For me, all those behind the inferno must face the full weight of the law. Victims must get justice. This is the only way to prevent a repetition. It is even more painful that some people have been exaggerating the death toll. I don’t know what they stand to gain by inflaming the anger in the land. Official figures from the police said one person died in the fight. Some evil people went about propagating figures as high as 20. Where were the 20 buried? A national newspaper even joined in this charade, with fabricated death toll. These wicked people obviously want to inflame anger in the North. Unfortunately for them, they could not go that far because God-fearing Nigerians on both sides of the divide outnumber these evil people.

We should be reconciling and healing wounds, not inflaming anger. These traders from diverse parts of the country have operated together peacefully for over 40 years. This is what patriots should be promoting. It was heartwarming seeing four governors from the north -Abubakar Sanni Bello (Niger); Bello Mohammed Matawalle (Zamfara); Abdulahi Ganduje (Kano) and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) – in Ibadan on Monday, promoting peace.

This is what Nigeria needs. We should be building bridges of unity and promoting concord, not digging holes and graves. As for Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, I am not sorry to say that his crisis management ability is below par. This man has to raise his game. Even with his retinue of media aides, the social media was still dominated by fake news on the Shasha imbroglio. The truthful narratives were just not in the social media.

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