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Fulani herdsmen and an evolving quiet war

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Nigeria has evolved over 15 years of its democratic experience. However, Nigerians are agonising under a heavy economic hardship that has burdened them, which has added to the country’s distressful worry given the insecurity that has led to countless loss of lives and property. I have always taken the agonies of Nigerians as my concern in all my career as a lawyer since the poor and vulnerable suffered more the tragedies that have bedevilled Nigeria before and after the current democratic dispensation.

The killing of innocent Nigerians in recent times has become troubling. And I am curious because throughout the military regimes, human rights were denied Nigerians and killing innocent citizens was common. If we now have democracy as the hope of restoring a proper society where human rights would be guaranteed and we still witness these killings, I would ask every political stakeholder where they think Nigerians should seek security if they cannot live in peace in their homeland. In a report by Charlotte Alfred for Huffington Post of January 6, 2017, it was evinced that Boko Haram had killed in Nigeria more than the Islamic State group who prioritised killing all over the world. I think this reality is disheartening and it could only remind one of the words of Salman Rushdie: “But there’s one thing we must all be clear about: terrorism is not the pursuit of legitimate goals by some sort of illegitimate means. Whatever the murderers may be trying to achieve, creating a better world certainly isn’t one of their goals. Instead, they are out to murder innocent people.” Shall the government fold hands while these abominable killings go on?

This was my question until recently when what was considered a security problem limited to the northern part of Nigeria suddenly evolved into another dimension that recently woke up my brothers and sisters in Ekiti State to fear as it has done in other parts of the South which were relatively safe. These new killings traced to the Fulani herdsmen would wake me up to the fact that if we do not take effective actions, we may be like the biblical fool who builds his house on the sand and whose house could not stand the raging winds.

Prior to my journey to Britain, I had seen the potentiality of these killings to be a destructive type and I had worked strongly with human rights organisations in campaigning for proper control of the herdsmen.

I have resorted to this writing because while I thought my effort was yielding fruit with the anti-grazing legislation, which I campaigned for, in Ekiti, I was shocked by the killing of one of my elders by the Fulani herdsmen in the state, whose death was very disheartening, and embarrassed by another killing at Oke-Ako in Ikole Ekiti by the same men where a swift police response was demanded but denied. Thisday newspaper of May 22, 2016 reported that the police reacted to the emergency call to help face the herdsmen in that village by requesting N12,000. This led me to the conclusion that Nigeria is not safe for many Nigerians who are left vulnerable without sufficient concern from relevant authorities.

It is my resolve that our joy over the establishment of the anti-grazing law in Ekiti is just a mere illusion that cannot succeed the test of time if we consider the killings. Notwithstanding the fact that more states are now treading the path of Ekiti by initiating similar laws, a non-coordinated response from the Federal Government to control the activities of the herdsmen is a sign of permanent national insecurity. The Federal Government has the monopoly of control over the police but it is sad that the same police now consider their service to the people as contractual over payment if lives must be saved in times of emergency.

This mere fact speaks volumes of what I think is an all-time quiet war going on in Nigeria different from the civil war. If our leaders could not see things this way, who would lead the cause of our security better in the hands of these gruesome murderers who are never tired of killing innocent people. I therefore call on the National Assembly as well as the Presidency to wake up to their statutory duties and make a national anti-grazing control legislation and an executive policy of such legislation that we may not live in fear of killers who pride themselves in herds business while they arrogate the right to kill innocent Nigerians to themselves. I want the government to know that the present evolving insecurity ranging from the Boko Haram to the herdsmen shows that Nigeria is in a quiet war to which we must speak against not only loud and clear but also struggle to end by all means.

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