South-east’s refusal to have the Miyetti Allah set up a vigilance group in the region, is predicated on survival, writes Benjamin Nworie
The recent proposal by the Miyetti Allah for a vigilance group in the south-east zone has been generating ripples across and beyond the region. Many groups have condemned the move while governors of the South East zone have not been spared by the vicious outrage, which the proposal has ignited.
Some people, especially the Pro-Biafra groups, have despised south-east governors’ forum for the proposal, which came from the summit organised by the forum in collaboration with the South East chamber of commerce, industry, mines and Agriculture in Enugu.
It was believed by the secessionists that the idea was foisted on the Governors’ forum that has continued to be in their black book for supporting the alleged clampdown by the Federal government, which led to its proscription as a terrorist group.
The people of the south-east saw the idea as a plot to further consolidate the mayhem of the rampaging herdsmen in some parts of the country. Many people have continued to wonder why the group decided to choose the South East Zone, which is relatively peaceful in the country as a zone for the establishment of Fulani youths vigilance group.
The security summit, according to the organisers, was aimed at achieving effective policing of the South East zone for improved business environment. The summit was however attended by the five governors of the South East, security chiefs in the zone, the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and others.
Activities of Fulani herdsmen have been strongly resisted in the zone starting with the creation of the proposed grazing route, cattle ranch and cattle colony. In spite of the spate of killings, wastages, destruction of properties and other violent activities often accused the herders of across the country, the leaders of the herders have always maintained that their members were peace loving, law-abiding and very co-habitable anywhere in the country.
With their violent activities, Igbo people have not changed their negative perception about the Fulani herdsmen. They still see herders as people who should never exist in their midst. Herders are seen as “murderers” in the bush. With their cattle, many farmlands have been destroyed. Farmers are always apprehensive to meet with the herders either for goods or pleasantries.
In Ebonyi State, there have been records of deadly clashes, Scores of people were reportedly killed in Enugu when suspected herders invaded a community about two years ago. These ugly trends also necessitated the ban of the influx of new herders, movement of cattle in the night by the Ebonyi State government, while those who had lived for many years in the state were subjected to biometric exercise.
Probably, in a bid to redeem the negative impression associated with Fulani herdsmen, the MACBAN proposed the need to establish Fulani Youths vigilante, who would be interfacing and collaborating with local vigilante of host communities to forestall any clash between the herders and their host communities.
The National President of MACBAN, Alhaji Mohammadu Kirowa, regretted that once insecurity was mentioned in Nigeria, the first thing that comes to mind was Fulani herdsmen. Represented by the National Secretary, Alhaji Baba Usman Ngelzerma, MACBAN noted that South East was a good host, which was the reason why it condemned all forms of violence and criminalities through its patrons like the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano and the Lamido of Adamawa.
While agitating for an establishment of Fulani Youth Vigilante group, the group noted that, “The Fulani Youth Vigilant body will be working with the security, the neighborhood watch or vigilante to ensure security in all communities, as it was done in Enugu State.
“We will solicit for your support and cooperation in adopting dialogue where problems exist as a means of brokering peace and to report cases against our members to either the Fulani Youth Vigilante Group, state or local branch of the association,” Kirowa said.
Since the proposal went viral on media, it has been described as hellish, and another plot to conquer and Islamise the Igbo race. The South East Governors said the proposal was funny, ridiculous and strange.
Chairman of the forum and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi noted that following the lingering controversies surrounding the alleged proposal by the Miyetti Alah to organize local vigilance groups in the South East to curtail crime, the South East Governors Forum has denied ever being ready to allow such suggestions come to fruition.
“I find it extremely strange for anybody to think that none locals in any part of the country including South East could be allowed to form vigilante outfit. The Miyetti Allah group may have made that suggestion which I believe will never mean to form a vigilante in South East, whichever is the meaning, no governor will allow that.
“South East governors have their local vigilantes working with security agencies. Any such demand by Miyetti group is a joke and not acceptable. Governors of South East are doing their best and we have no problems receiving insults from our people. It’s the price for leadership.
The important thing to us is the safety and wellbeing of our people. OPC and other pressure groups may not have found it fashionable to be insulting their leaders even when their leaders may not be saints.
“My task is to develop Ebonyi State, contribute in rebuilding South East and Nigeria. My calling is not to insult others for me to do these. Have we been fairly treated? No! Can we solve the problem by hate speeches? For me, no! No body, no matter the level of pretence can change my style of peaceful leadership. Ebonyi in particular has suffered so much even in the context of South East. We believe that we do not need hate speeches as a strategy to solve our problems.”
The governors stressed that no Miyetti vigilante in South East, no cattle ranch or colony but they must live peacefully with herdsmen that do not destroy their farmland especially, those that were born in the region and have lived peacefully with them.
Other groups have also condemned the proposal in its entirety notable amongst which is the leadership of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
The group at the weekend issued a stern warning to Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to stay action in attempt to establish vigilante group in Biafra land. It made this known through in a press statement signed by the Director Of Information Comrade Edeson Samuel and forwarded to Journalists in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State.
The statement said: “MASSOB vehemently reject the attempt by a terrorist group in disguise called Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to establish a Fulani vigilante group in Biafra land. It is provocative and an insult to Ndigbo.
“It’s also another dimension of adding more salt to the political, economic and religious injuries of Ndigbo. For these so-called cattle breeders to have suggested for an establishment of vigilante in Igbo land is a clear evidence of their plans to dominate and conquer the entire southern region, which their grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio commanded them to do.
“This is their next move to annihilate the entire Igbo nation in the name of providing security for Ndigbo. MASSOB can never allow our arch enemies to provide us with security, allowing such is as good as Ndigbo committing suicide.
“MASSOB wishes to remind our people that on Thursday 11th June 2019, these marauding terrorist called Fulani herdsmen blocked Agbani-Ugbawka road in Nkanu LGA, Enugu State. They robbed passengers in commercial vehicle of their belongings and money. They also took some women into the nearby bush and raped them.
“It is a pity that Ndigbo are sleeping while our house is on fire. These Fulani herdsmen are president Muhammadu Buhari’s foot soldiers, who have come to do the biding of their master, moving from states to communities with AK 47 rifles, killing farmers, raping their women, destroying their farm crops and setting their houses ablaze.
“If these Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association can provide security, they should go to Zamfara, Maiduguri or Katsina States and other areas in the North where, Boko Haram has taken over. They said that charity begins at home.”