Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, recently through his twitter, gave an ultimatum to the Fulani herdsmen’s living in his state to vacate the state’s forest reserves. The threat to expel came as the result of rampant cases of kidnapping alleged to have been carried out by the members of Fulani. Governor Akeredolu’s threat has been greeted with mixed reactions from Nigerians. Some Nigerians have expressed displeasure or disappointment with the threat, citing Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution which gives every Nigerian the right of movement from one place to another.

Governor Akeredolu who is a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) knows his threat will impinge upon the right of many innocent Fulani who reside in Ondo State. Akeredolu’s allegations of crime committed by Fulani is not far from the truth. Northern Nigeria which is the epicenter of clashes between nomadic and sedentary farmers can attest to this simple fact. Banditry in Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna States are believed to be the handiwork of criminal Fulani elements.

However, the Fulani criminals cannot commit all the alleged crimes alone. There must be an element of truth that, most of the crimes are being perpetrated by Fulani in connivance with locals or natives who often provide information about their victims. What about the allegations that some Fulani from neighbouring countries took advantage of our porous borders to attack, kidnap and rob many communities? Many Fulani are also victims of the criminals among them.

Think about the cattle rustlers who continue to make lives difficult for them. What about the ethnic militias who continue to kill and steal their cattle? Over a decade, Fulani herdsmen have continued to face multi-faceted challenges ranging from climate change, urbanization to organized crime. The federal government proposed “RUGA” policies which would have forced the Fulani to abandon old method of rearing and embrace modern one has been politicized. Benue State has said it would not provide land for any ranches. Many other states are following suit.

While Ondo State government has made U-turn and agreed that only the registered Fulani herdsmen would be allowed to reside in the state, in Oyo State, it is different story. An ethnic warrior, Sunday Igbono, dared governor Seyi Makinde and instigated youths to attack Fulani communities. The unfortunate attacks, as usual, attracted condemnation and re-ignited war of words between the leadership of Afenifere and Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).

I think, the war of attrition between these socio-cultural organizations will not go beyond Fulani “must go” and Fulani “must stay”. Honestly speaking, every geo-political zone has a sad story to tell about how it suffered in the hands of some criminally-minded Fulani. Let us identify the criminals, apprehend and expel them. Let them face the laws of the land for the atrocities committed. We cannot continue to stigmatise all the Fulani because of the sins of the few.

Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna State

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