It is necessary to urgently advise the Nigerian army and main stream media to stop endangering true and decent Fulani herdsmen by yoking them to all sorts of bandits and Boko Haram terrorists operating outside of the Sambisa axis. It is reasonable to still believe there are more decent Fulani herders than not.
In a recent Nigerian military press release, some 92 suspect armed bandits cum terrorists intercepted in a lorry and camry at a checkpoint near Abuja were called “herdsmen.” While they had Fulani staffs, they clearly had no herds and hardly dressed or appeared like Fulani herders with some not appearing to be of the Fulani ethnicity.
By labelling all bandits and terrorists Fulani herders, Nigeria is putting innocent herders at serious suspicion and risk across the entire country and seriously endangering them.
There are bandits and terrorists and there are herders and the distinction must be underlined. A herder who kills and burns is a terrorist. He must be arrested and dealt with under the Nigerian anti terror laws which prescribe death for terrorists.
“(2) without prejudice to sub-section (2) of this section, where death results from any terrorist act, the penalty shall be death sentence.” Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 as amended in 2013, Part 1, subsection 4.
Nigerians need to know what exactly is happening in the country and who these armed ‘Fulani’ bandits and terrorists are. Are they linked to Boko Haram or actually one and the same with Boko Haram? Is their agenda the Boko Haram agenda? Are they the sponsors of Boko Haram?
Where do they get their arms and ammunition from?
What is their mission?
What is the truth behind their mode of operation: exterminating and occupying territory essentially identical to Boko Haram?
What is the police doing if anything to arrest and prosecute all of the murderers among them?
It is important Nigeria outlaws Fulani related banditry and terrorism. The message must be clear, resounding and propagated to them in a language they understand. Nigeria cannot continue to explain away this new disseminated armed terrorist network operating liberally across the federation. The government must urgently stop the romance, take off its kid gloves and sound a clear warning while assuming a posture that shows we as a nation are not in any way going to accept new editions of Boko Haram on our soil.
The messages from the security departments have so far not been reassuring. It is time to step up to this new deadly threat that continues to claim lives and destroy billions in property.
By continuing to romance and sympathize with killers, murderers and incendiary terrorists, the government of Nigeria is rather putting the decent herdsmen across the nation at risk as Nigerians are losing their patience and potential terrorists in various communities may take to ‘revenge’ terrorism against innocent herders in their vicinities as has been reported on occasion. The government should not fail to act urgently and properly while continuing to endanger real herders and Fulani across the nation.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian