Men's Roundtable: Fulani herdsmen and their license to kill

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The Men's Roundtable

Fulani herdsmen who were once seen as docile and meek fellows have now turned themselves into licensed killers.

Growing up in the Northern parts of the country in the 80s and 90s, the Fulani herdsman were seen as that docile, meek and mild stick wielding shepherd who went about tending his cattle without looking for anyone's trouble or fomenting any himself.

I had many of them as friends and buddies and a visit to their homestead was fun as we were sure to have enough fresh milk from their cows.

In fact, in my village in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, the Fulani men we had been so integrated into the community that we shared a lot in common. They participated in communal activities and saw themselves as part of us.

 

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But nowadays, any mention of a Fulani herdsman illicit fear, terror, and fright. They are now licensed killers who go about wrecking havoc, destruction, and devastation anywhere they go.

Long gone are their sticks and machetes they used in chasing away dangerous animals coming for their cattle. They are now replaced with AK-47 guns, assault rifles, rocket launchers and grenades which they use to sack whole communities, kill and rape women with reckless abandon.

They are no longer the mind-your-business-I -mind-my-business guy who goes about with his flute to entertain himself while his wife milk the cows to take to town to sell Fura da nono.

No one can say exactly when the easy going Fulani herdsman became a killer and bloodthirsty war monger but the transition has taken many by surprise.

 

From Plateau State to Adamawa, from Benue to Kogi, Kaduna to Bauchi, Delta to Edo, Enugu to Anambra, we wake up every day to hear how Fulani herdsmen wrecked havoc or the other, killing indigenes with reckless abandon, as if they have a license to kill and maim members of their host communities.

The menace of the Fulani herdsmen has gone for too long without a check from security forces and the government seems not able or willing to check it and nip it in the bud.

In the last two years, they have become more daring with the attacks becoming more fierce and well-coordinated that it seems they have some backing from the security agencies.

It is now a common sight to hear how they stormed a community, attack the people, kill at random, burn down houses and sack the indigenes with none of them being apprehended despite the fact that they keep occurring at an alarming frequency.

 

When the menace started, many thought it had religious and ethnic coloration but these days, they do not care if the community is inhabited by Muslims of Christians.

Before now, they would attack churches and communities largely inhabited by Christians but these days, they do not care as they strike even Muslim communities as the case witnessed last weekend when they attacked a Mosque in Niger State, killing more than 20 people.

Though security agencies and the government has come out to say most of the atrocities carried out are not necessarily done by the herdsmen as most of the attackers are foreigners who sneak into the country, the bottom line still lies in the fact that nothing is being done to put them in check.

In some instances, some of the actions of government make people wonder if they are really ready to take the fight to the so-called aliens.

A case in mind was the action of the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, who was reported to have paid the Fulani herdsmen money as compensation for any of their cattle killed by indigenes of the Southern parts of the state while victims of the attacks were never compensated.

But when the Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose signed the anti-grazing law to check the killings of farmers and destruction of farmlands by Fulani herdsmen in the state, many rose to condemn him, with some calling him names.

 

A few months ago, a lawmaker in Delta State had raised an alarm to the effect that a helicopter was sighted dropping guns and ammunition for the herdsmen in a part of the state, he was not taken seriously while the spokesmen of the government said he was just trying to cause confusion.

But the truth remains that the killing spree has continued unabated. Though one cannot completely say they are carried out by the Fulani herdsmen, the issue still remains that any of such attacks are attributed to them and nothing is being done to arrest the tide.

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The state governors are doing practically nothing to provide security for their people as the rampaging herdsmen go about their killing spree, yet they collect billions as security funds every month.

 

The police, the military, and the security services have shown that they cannot protect the citizens of Nigeria from the marauding herdsmen and it is left for Nigerians to rise up and defend themselves.



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