Towards security of citizens

Some of the caskets with bodies of the 73 persons killed during the Fulani herdsmen’s attacks on Benue communities in Guma and Logo local councils, during a funeral service for them at the IBB Square in Markurdi. PHOTO: NAN

In one fell swoop, 73 bodies were buried on the same day. The macabre incident was in Benue State and it was occasioned by the notorious Fulani herdsmen. For a long time now, these herdsmen are thorns in the flesh of Nigerians and Nigeria. Going back to colonial Nigeria, herdsmen were operating throughout the length and breadth of this country. They were known to be peaceful in their cow-rearing business. Their tool was the simple long stick-sonnda- to dire on the movements of the ever subservient animals. Neither the herds nor the guarding and guiding Fulani men were troublesome to their hosts wherever they might be in any part of this country; in the North or in the South. In the boyhood days of this writer, it was noticeable that when the business period was over, these herdsmen could revert to star-gazing to supplement their profits, apparently for their transportation back to the North, mainly by trains, then. Invariably, our gullible and fickle- minded housewives fell victims of those fortune- tellers. Our women in the South were not interested in the accuracies of the herdsmen’s predictions. I had occasions to watch the fortune- tellers and clients at close quarters, ensuring that I was not disturbing them.

Today there is the swing of the pendulum. The peaceful herdsmen- fortune- tellers of the yester years have become notoriously violent with AK 47 guns across their shoulders. Recently, their grisly business of violent killings reached its crescendo when in Benue State, 73 men, women and children were sent to their untimely graves, it was gruesome, I am sure that there is a law that prohibits the carrying of guns without licenses in this country. Who permitted the herdsmen to carry guns? There is more to it than meets the eyes. In essence, the Federal government’s investigations must begin with this question. What is the source of supply of these guns? Are these herdsmen defending the grass or the cows to necessitate their uses of AK 47? Prince Tony Momoh, The former Information Minister really hits the nail on the head. Concerning the so-called Fulani herdsmen, he implores Nigerians to dismiss the illusion that the mass killers of citizens are really herdsmen; but that they could possibly be the notorious Boko Harams. If not, the casualties could not be as many as 73. This writer agrees with him in toto. These are guns that are especially manufactured on special demand by end- users in countries of the world. It is unlike biro or pieces of candy for children, obtainable along the streets.

Further, the Boko Haram insurgents might have calculated that they are losing their grips in the North- East of the country. In consequences, they decide to change their modus operandi, and masquerade as herdsmen. These weapons of warfare are supplied for countries’ security and also belligerent organisations. This line of thought reinforces the belief that notable people could possibly be sponsors of the Boko Haram who probably disguise as “Fulani herdsmen”. Where could the herdsmen get funds to equip, if not from the men of affluence and influence? The Boko Haram insurgency has endured for too long, now in its 1,370 days, as evidenced by The Guardian’s front page daily reminder. Besides, how do they maintain foods sustenance and lastly, how are the armed herdsmen trained in the uses of the military weaponry? The security of persons and of property is one of the fundamental objectives of any government, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. The wanton killings of Nigerians in many states violate the constitution. The citizens deserve the rights of abode in any part of the country. The gory episode is not rightly solved by later drafting policemen or soldiers to the troubled states. This amounts to closing the gate after the horse has escaped; scrambled eggs cannot be unscrambled. Where were these security forces before the gory incidents? Are the security forces dispatched to the troubled states, in anticipation of other incidents?

If so, what about the other states yet unaffected? Before the Benue State incident, I was labouring under the illusion that each state in the Federation was having some standing troops to protect the state, because every governor was the chief security officer of his state. If this is not so, this writer supports, for once, the Ekiti State governor for collaborating with the native hunters. There is a saying: “An Englishman’s home is his castle,” meaning that a person’s home is a place where he can be private and safe as he likes. By extension, every man’s state is his castle or home. If a man is pursued by any attacker, he can defend himself with any weapon. He must be sure of safety inside the state, under any threatening circumstance. Where else is he supposed to escape for safety? By English common law which Nigeria inherits, a man’s home or state is his castle. Therefore, Ekiti and indeed, an Ijebu man is right to defend himself during any attack by outsiders. On the ground of self- defence, Governor Fayose is right to defend his people by seeking the support of the indigenous hunters. Other states can as well copy the Ekiti Governor, in self defence.

In the language of William Shakespeare, in his Julius Caesar: “It is better to put an end to Caesar, before Caesar puts an end to Rome.” In the same vein, it is better to destroy the Fulani herdsmen before the herdsmen destroy Nigeria.

Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.



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