An organisation led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, has described as “absurd” and “unfortunate” the widespread insinuation that Fulani herdsmen are responsible for the attacks on villagers in Benue, Enugu, Nasarawa and other parts of the country.
The Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), a coalition of several Islamic groups in Nigeria, stated this on Sunday.
The Sultan is the head of the JNI.
In the statement, signed by Khalid Aliyu, the organisation’s secretary-general, the JNI said it was shocked by the attacks.
“Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) received with great shock and deep concern the news of incessant killings and maiming of innocent lives and the destruction of public and private properties.
“Of particular concern are the brutal murders of people in Agatu-Benue State, Nnibo-Enugu state and some parts of Nasarawa state.
“It is indeed alarming that within few weeks, deadly attacks were reportedly unleashed while the perpetrators go un-arrested.
JNI therefore condemns in strong terms these repeated heinous attacks and once again calls on the relevant security agencies to brace up to the trends, in order to put a stop to this ugly tide, as human lives are sacred and must be seen to be treated as so,” the statement said.
The JNI said the attacks were criminal in nature and should be treated as such.
“The repeated heinous acts of attacks are crimes against the citizenry and the perpetrators are therefore criminals and must be treated so.”
“It is indeed absurd and most unfortunate that certain groups or people ascribe the incidence on ethnic and/or religious premise and to whimsically apportion blame in order to batter the gradual restoration of peace and security in Nigeria,” it said.
The JNI, which commiserated with the victims of the attack, also called for “concerted introspection and commitment by relevant agencies to take proactive and effective measures in addressing this pernicious problem.”
“Well, the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State has debunked the rumours, likewise the Inspector General of Police has also debunked the insinuations over those being blamed,” the JNI said.
In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Saleh Bayeri, the Interim National Secretary of Gan Allah Fulani Association, rose in defence of his herdsmen, saying the February bloody conflict in Benue was a reprisal attack by his people against the Agatus who he accused of killing, in 2013, a prominent Fulani man.
Gan Allah Fulani Association is an umbrella body of Fulani associations in Nigeria.
Mr. Bayeri said the killing of the man reverberated amongst every Fulani in West Africa.
He insisted that the Agatu farmers were aggressors
The Fulani leader said about 20 Agatu and Tiv militia, on April 20, 2013, invaded the compound of one Shehu Abdullahi, killing him and carting away over 200 cows.
According to him the Police in the area “arrested four of the attackers carrying some of the meat on their motorcycle and they were taken to Naka police station”.
Mr. Bayeri also said 16 of the attackers abandoned their motorcycles and ran away and the police took the motorcycles to the station.
He said the police confirmed to Fulani leaders that they knew where 150 of the cows were kept and the “Divisional Police Officer promised to recover and return the cows, but up till today, nothing has happened,” Mr. Bayeri said.
“A prominent Fulani leader, Ardo Madaki, was invited to the palace of the district head of the area on the grounds that a solution was being sought to the problem.
“However, the Agatu militia beheaded Ardo right in front of the district head.
“This action reverberated across all Fulani people in the whole of West Africa and the clamour for revenge began to grow strong. He comes from a very well respected clan and the Agatu sent the Fulani a chilling message with his murder,” he said.
“Till date, no action was taken, even by the village police station on this murder,” he said.
He also said the Fulani have records of how the Agatu killed over 300 of their people, adding, “but because we don’t have people in government or the media, no one said anything when genocide was being carried out against our people”.
Mr. Bayeri called on government to set up an independent judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the killings of the said 300 Fulani.
“We have a full inventory of all the Fulani people killed by Agatu and we would produce the evidence as long as the inquiry commission is not under the National Assembly
The National Secretary, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, has called for the perpetrators of the Enugu killings to be brought to book.
Speaking on Channels Television on Thursday, he said that such persons were criminals that must not be allowed to go unpunished.
Mr Ngelzarma says there is a dire need for the grazing bill put before the National Assembly as this would help curb the violence between herdsmen and indigenes
He urged the National Assembly to focus on the grazing bill before focusing on the communal clashes.
Arguing that the grazing bill has been neglected, and made a case for the safety of herdsmen of Fulani decent.
Mr Ngelzarma further expressed his displeasure at the light in which the cattle-rearers are seen and also blamed the media for it.