Lecturer seeks N100m from 9 media houses over use of 'Fulani herdsmen'

Federal High Court Abuja

Federal High Court Abuja

By Taiye Agbaje

A university lecturer, Dr Ahmadu Shehu, has dragged nine media houses to court, seeking compensation of N100 million over frequent attribution of banditry or terrorists attacks in the country to ‘Fulani herdsmen’ in their reports.

Shehu, a Fulani from Jada Jada community in Adamawa State made the demand in a suit before Justice Inyang Ekwo of Federal High Court, Abuja.

He prayed the court for an order directing nine media houses joined as respondents in the suit to jointly pay him N100 million as exemplary damages.

He also prayed the High Court, to order the media houses to, henceforth, stop attributing bandit or terrorist attacks in any part of the country to persons of Fulani extraction

While Shehu is the applicant, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.

The nine media houses joined in the suit are Channels Television Ltd, African Independent Television (AIT) Ltd, Guardian Newspaper NIg Ltd, Peoples Gazette Ltd, Vintage Press Ltd, ThisDay Newspaper Ltd, African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, TVC Communications, Vanguard Media Ltd as 4th to 12 respondents respectively.

Shuhu said the said the demand was in consonance with Section 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, against the respondents severally and or jointly for violation of his fundamental human rights.

In the suit dated Sept. 21, 2022 and filed Sept. 29, 2022 by his lawyer, Mohammed Yunusa, Shehu sought five declarations and three orders.

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These include “a declaration that the unsubstantiated ascription of bandits and/or terrorist attacks in various parts of Nigeria to people of Fulani extraction.

”The description of perpetrators of such attacks as ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ and/or ‘Fulani Bandits’ by the 4th to 12th respondents is inordinate, unconscionable, discriminatory and a violation of their right to enjoy all the civil rights recognised and guaranteed by Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms Of Racial Discrimination; and Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 4th to 12th respondents, their privies, agents, successors, howsoever described from further attributing any bandits/terrorists’ attack, past or future to the persons of Fulani ethnicity.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 4th to 12th respondents, their privies, agents, successors, howsoever described from further describing the perpetrators of banditry and/or terrorist attack as ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ or ‘Fulani Bandits.’”

The Kaduna-based lecturer, in the affidavit he deposed to, averred that “the attribution of violent, gruesome banditry and terrorist attacks by unscrupulous elements to the ethnic identity of the Fulanis was insulting and discriminatory against peaceful and civil persons of that ethnicity” as in his case.

He said there were millions of persons of Fulani extraction who were engaged in legitimate activities either in the civil service at the federal, state or local levels, while some were engaged in legitimate businesses, scattered all over Nigeria, living in peace and contributing productively and positively to the economic and political terrain.

According to him, the Fulani people have a history of peaceful coexistence with other ethnic groups in Nigeria over a period spanning more than 100 years.

Shehu urged the court to grant his prayers in the interest of justice and more importantly, for the enforcement and protection of his fundamental human rights.
Justice Ekwo fixed May 26 for hearing.


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