BACKLASH: Now That Ese Has Become Aisha
Eseoghene, which means the gift of God is very likely the full name of the Bayelsa teenage girl (Ese) who got projected to instant national limelight last week on account of her forced marriage to one Yunusa alias Yellow from Kano. She has rejoined her parents, Mr and Mrs Oruru. The story was that she suddenly became the gift of Yunusa who kidnapped and took her to Kano, converted to her to Islam and renamed her Aisha, preparatory to her new role as Yunusa’s wife.
This was in August last year. All attempts, including a couple of visits by members of the Oruru family to recover Ese proved fruitless. It wasn’t actually as straight forward as going to bring home a renegade child. Very powerful quarters like the Sharia Council in Kano and the Emir of Kano were being mentioned frequently in a matter that was ordinarily between the Orurus and Yunusa on one leg and the Nigeria police on the other. This perhaps explained why Mr and Mrs Oruru were unable to even use the police to recover their daughter.
The recovery only materialized after the matter was massively launched onto the public space by a civil society group and the media, forcing, most curiously, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and not the Nigeria Police, to order the Sharia Council to release Ese. I do not know how consent or forced marriages are contracted up North, but I was thinkingthe attendant ceremony in either case shouldn’t be that elaborate as to involve, in any significant way, the Sharia Council and the reigning Emir of the Emirate.
Anyway, what is important is that Ese is safely back home. Secondary matters such as her transfiguration from a simple Urhobo school girl to a hijab-wearing Aisha and reports that she is five months pregnant after co-habiting with a randy Yunusa for Seven months, shall certainly be attended to one way or the other. Other puzzles like what the police did or failed to do in the saga shall be resolved too.
Meanwhile, some elements sympathetic to the other side are creating a parallel narrative to pre-empt the investigation and mitigate the culpability of quarters that will be eventually indicted. They say the raw deal, which included the conversion of Ese from Christianity to Islam was love made in heaven; almost like a modern version of the classic love story of Romeo and Juliet. They maintain Yinusa and Ese were struck by Cupid and thereafter yearned earnestly for the fulfillment of a burning love.
There is no better way of illustrating when salt or insult is rubbed on a fresh injury. And this is precisely my point today. The Ese saga is the latest manifestation of a bigger malady, which is the ongoing invasion of the rest of Nigeria by the Caliphate, using the subterfuge of Hausa/Fulani herdsmen. The abduction has shown that the invaders are in different shades and colours.
Yunusa was reportedly an okada rider in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. He was treated nicely by Ese’s mother who operates a restaurant in the Bayelsa State capital. But at the appointed time, Yunusa did not have qualms selling off his motorcycle and disengaging from his trade for a higher purpose. He was not even weakened by the hospitality of Mrs Oruru in his resolve to deliver a deadly stroke on the innocent family. Situation as this is pushing people into the archives to rake up statements allegedly by the late Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello to the effect that the ‘Caliphate shall continue its conquest of Nigeria until it reaches the last settlement on the southern coastline.’
Now, Nigerians down south are worried about anybody from the North who cannot be properly placed and traced.Nothing is no longer given; not even the sincerity of purpose of the ubiquitous maiguard who is part of every middle class family down south. Long before the Yunusa episode, the okada riding malams in Lagos had lost their innocence too. Fingers usually point in their direction when things go wrong in that segment of the Lagos economy.
But nothing, in the main, compares with the threat posed by the category of invaders called Fulani Herdsmen. They kidnap for ransom, rape, maim and kill. And like the nomads they are, they are not restricted by space. For decades, they have sustained a steady onslaught on Benue and Plateau States stamping a permanent signature of anguish on both and adjoining states.
They have since pushed beyond the Middle Belt into the deep-south, reaching as far flung as the coastal states of Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River with their orgy of violence, which has touched both kings and commoners with equal intensity. Afenifere leader and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and former presidential candidate, 78-year old Chief Olu Falae was not too big or important to be kidnapped for ransom by these herdsmen. His Royal Majesty (HRM), Akaeze Edward Ofulue III, the Obi of Ubulu-Uku was not too majestic to be kidnapped right in his dormain, killed and dumped at the roadside like a common criminal.
Almost every state in the South has an experience to narrate about the rampaging herdsmen. From the Southwest through the Southeast to the South-south, it has been an unbroken narrative of the new scourge called Fulani herdsmen.
The plotting is such that every other person in this blood-letting drama is helpless except the invaders. The Orurus were helpless until a benevolent spirit stepped in to crack the hard nut. State governments and community leaders are helpless. They are ever lamenting and calling on an adamant Federal Government to provide security against the equally adamant herdsmen. The National Assembly is also helpless. It is unable to unite and create a good law to stop theherdsmen from turning every open field, including farmlands, from Sokoto down to Calabar and from Maiduguri down to Lagos, to grazing ground.
Not even the Police is offering definite hope. The Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase has said the criminals among the Fulani herdsmen are actually not Nigerians but people from neighbouring countries,who take advantage of the porous national borders to flood Nigeria. The Police boss is only seeking a creative way to explain the lawlessness and impunity of a group within a larger group and the inexplicable permissiveness of the central authorities in the face of these atrocities..
Yet many others even within government are unperturbed by the frightening development. They are the defenders of the Caliphate. They tell us that the continued existence of the Fulani man is tied to cattle and as such he holds grazing rights everywhere in the country and if need be, he can kidnap, kill, rape and maim in defence of these rights and also his right to marry whoever at whatever age and by whatever means in accordance with strict Islamic laws.
Now, more stories of kidnapping and forced marriages of young girls by this same set of sexual predators are coming out following the revelations in Bayelsa. As it is, the victim states in the South are left with just one option. That is, to vote for liberation and create laws, much the same way as the Sharia laws were created in the North, to safeguard their people and land. For instance, it could be made a crime for Hausa Fulani herdsmen to graze without express permit from the state or traditional authorities.
It has its consequences no doubt but it is still the best in the current circumstances.Nigeria did not go up in unquenchable flames when Sharia was introduced in some Northern states to safeguard their people and culture. Same way, I am not expecting hell to fall and eclipse Nigeria if grazing permit is introduced in the South states to control and monitor the activities of the so-called Fulani herdsmen.