Menace Of Fulani Herdsmen



Apart from Boko Haram insurgents, other trouble makers threatening the peace of this country are the Fulani cattle rearers. They move with their cattle from state to state wreaking havoc. And worse still, they do not respect the borders of nations. If it were just a matter of seeking pasture alone without inflicting deaths and mayhem, it would not have provoked any reaction. Rather, they drive their cattle beyond grasslands to invade farmlands where their cows, unable to distinguish between crop and grass, munch whatever comes their way like combined harvesters.

One of the states that have felt this invasion is Benue, especially Agatu, Guma, Gwer West and Makurdi local government areas. Like invading Mongols, the Fulani ceaselessly attack the farmers in the areas, who have the cheek to complain about their crops eaten up or trampled under feet by cows.

At least 400 persons, including women and children, have, in the past 14 weeks, been murdered when Fulani cattle herders invaded and rendered over 42 communities desolate. One of the most gruesome attacks occurred on 12 May, 2013 when the Fulani herdsmen gunned down more than 47 mourners at Okpachanyi village in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue state while carrying out the burial rites of two police officers killed recently by Ombatse cult in Nasarawa State. This prompted Governor Gabriel Suswam to summon a security council meeting, saying that soldiers and police officers have been deployed in all the affected communities and villages in order to stem the repeated attacks which are taking a dangerous dimension.

Benue State Deputy, Chief Steven Lawani, also lamented that the attack was beyond imagination: villages and communities were sacked, women and children have been rendered homeless because their homes were burnt and destroyed, adding that it is sad that today, human life seemed not to be appreciated anymore unlike what was obtainable in the past when the death of an individual elicits a lot of lamentations among the people.

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In December last year, the border town of Oja-Odan in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State was invaded by some Fulani herdsmen who killed a farmer and injured dozens of others. The farmer, Agbaose Sewotan, was killed because he complained against the invasion of his farm. His elder brother, Mr. Oluwole Sewontan, bemoaned: “This is not the first time that our people were slaughtered like cows on our own soil with impunity. My dear brother was killed simply because he protested the invasion of his farmland by the herdsmen.” He added that at least 40 people were killed over the years “and our law enforcement agencies have not been able to bring the culprits to book.”

States such as Oyo, Kwara, Kogi, Ekiti, Cross River, Edo, the northern fringes of which lie by the Savannah region of Nigeria, have tasted this bitter pill administered by the herdsmen. We submit that the Federal Government should consider this as much a threat to national security as it takes the Boko Haram and kidnappers. The belief that an ethnic group has right to cross cities, states and borders to destroy crops with the owners having no right to complain should stop.

The states and federal ministries of agriculture must come out with a deliberate policy to carve out grasslands solely for foraging in different states of the federation so that the farmers and cattle rearers must know their boundaries. If the two tiers of government must go and study how other countries that practice animal husbandry, it is okay.

The Nigerian security agencies must come up with an effective system of monitoring the unruly herdsmen to stop the death and destruction they cause wherever they go.

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