(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – In the last five years, the activities of Fulani herdsmen in parts of Nigeria have become a source of great concern to peace loving citizens. They lead their herds into farms and leave massive destruction of other peoples investments in their trail.When challenged by farmers, they respond with violence, and many have reportedly been matcheted and killed, just as scores of women have been raped and entire communities destroyed.
Strangely, these strange acts of lawlessness have been tolerated by security operatives, who regularly looked the other way, and this has prompted communities to begin to resort to self help.
Amazingly, some elites in the north are showing open support of the unwholesome and strange behaviours of Fulani herdsmen.For instance, the governor of Bauchi state, Bala Mohammed, justified herdsmen bearing arms.His argument was that, it was for their protection, when the law of the land forbids unauthorised persons from bearing arms.Curiously, the governor had no word for the farmers whose investments are destroyed by herders.
It was therefore refreshing when the Governor of Anambra state,Willie Obiano, on Tuesday directed the arrest of any herdsmen bearing AK 47 in his state, urging that they be treated as armed robbers.
The clarity of the governor’s directive deserves commendation at a time when others are confused.
The law of Nigeria do not allow Fulani herdsmen and any other unauthorized citizen, for that matter, to bear AK-47.Those who are looking the other way while the stranger herdsmen go about destroying peoples farms and killing those who stand on their way are playing the ostrich.They have chosen to sacrifice the peace and prosperity of Nigeria on the altar of parochial tribal, religious and political considerations.
The directive of Governor Obiano is the most appropriate in the circumstance, and any herdsmen who wants to bear arms can go and do his business in Bauchi state.Besides, on no account should a herder lead his cattle’s to peoples farms. The association of herders in each state should be made to pay for damages when they happen, just the same way they insist on damages whenever their cattle is killed or missing.This is the credible way to peace, because Fulani herdsmen do not have higher stake in this country than other Nigerians.
We cannot allow persons, who do not have respect for the law of the land to destroy our cherished values for peace, love and unity, and impose a new culture of lawless and uncivilized conduct on the vast majority of Nigerians – at a time when the rest of the world are breaking new grounds in science and technology. All Nigerians must therefore resist the alien wave of lawlessness across the country, by speaking up and matching their words with action.
Any visitor to Nigeria must respect the law of the land as it obtains in each state or quit. No state will bend the rules to displease the majority, just to please few stranger elements.Nigerians cannot abandoned civility to please people with strange ideologies.