Fulani group says there's an agenda to "exterminate" Fulani herders
The group claimed thousands of herders have been killed in Plateau as part of a genocidal attempt to force them out.
The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore has alleged that there's an agenda to exterminate Fulani herders and criminalise cattle herding in the country.
Secretary-General of the Fulani socio-cultural group, Saleh Alhassan, said this during an interview on Channels Television on Monday, July 2, 2018, claiming that over 5000 Fulani pastoralists have been killed in Plateau State.
There have been fresh accusations about the group's violent leanings in the wake of the gruesome killing of at least 100 people in Plateau state in attacks allegedly carried out by herdsmen on Saturday, June 23, 2018.
According to Alhassan, the total breakdown of law and order has forced herders into self-preservation mode which has been misrepresented as aggression on their part.
He said, "What we have in Plateau State is an agenda by an ethnic group to expel the herders on the plateau. It has been there for over 15 years. I schooled in the plateau, I grew there, I'm very familiar with the crisis. "There is no Fulani family on the plateau, particularly in Riyom, Barkin Ladi, Jos South, Jos North, that don't have a victim of Berom's genocidal act. We have taken them to ECOWAS court. They have killed over 5000 Fulani pastoralists. "You see, what we have on the plateau is clear case of an agenda to exterminate an indigenous pastoralist community on the plateau. "I want you to understand the context. If you're faced with total breakdown of law and order where might is right, self-preservation becomes a natural instinct. "Today, the herders in the rural areas, they don't enjoy any form of security; rustlers will come and invade their community, rustle their cattle with sophisticated weapon; so what do you expect them (to do). They must try as much as possible to defend what is left of their only means of livelihood. "At the same time, you see that if they try to defend themselves, the whole narratives are being changed upside down. "In fact, take the case of the Plateau State for example, is it a trespass on land? If you take the case of Zamfara, is it trespass on land? You see, it's pure aggression. "There is an agenda to make sure there is a criminalisation of cattle rearing in this country and that agenda has its drivers. "You have hate speech advocates, you have promoters of hate speech, you have organisations that are promoting this conflict. "Our members don't carry weapons. You must differentiate between bandits, criminal elements, and kidnappers from cattle rearers. "In most communities when they're faced with attacks, they try to defend themselves. In most cases they don't succeed; they lose everything, all their belongings. "Today, if you go to Benue State, you'll pity the pastoralists. They've been totally expelled from Benue State, they're refugees in Nasarawa State. "At the same time, the state government is using state apparatus to kill them. Just last week, they killed six innocent herders, shot 150 cows in Keana early in the morning for no reason. "When they fail in using their local militia and and tribal hordes to displace the herders, they now want to criminalise cattle rearing so that the state will be used against the herders. That is why we're shouting."
Alhassan further alleged that the Miyetti Allah association is being bullied because it has refused to be compromised in making sure the voices of herders are heard.
He also hailed the federal government's N179 million national livestock transformation plan as an initiative that can bring about sustainable peace if implemented faithfully.
He said, "It must be understood clearly that there are challenges between farmers and herders that bothers on land resource conflicts. Those conflicts should be addressed through a sustainable land use policy which we now have encapsulated in the new national agricultural development plan. "That plan, if it is implemented faithfully without deceit, will address all these challenges that has to do with farmers-herders conflict. "The agenda that they will expel the herders particularly from the northcentral should be perished because they're an indigenous mobile population. They didn't come from anywhere."
He also slammed critics of the livestock plan, calling them out for hypocrisy of allegedly changing their minds on ranching as the best way for herders to move forward. "Today, we have a national livestock development plan that is well-articulated but you see people that have been clamouring that we should ranch our cows, they're the ones saying now they won't accept ranching; so what are we now talking about?" he said.
He reiterated that laws such as Benue State's anti-open grazing law are not fair to all groups, especially pastoralists and asked that they should be treated just like proper citizens.
He said, "First we must accept that the pastoralist is indigenous to Nigeria; they're not aliens. the issue of citizenship must be addressed. The settler-indigene dichotomy must be addressed. The pastoralist that has been in a community for over 100 years are still seen as aliens. "If you deny people citizenship, automatically, you've programmed them to be excluded from governance so there must be inclusive governance that'll make sure that development comes to all communities. "You don't allow laws that seems to promote segregation against particular socio-economic groups as solutions to problems."
We want to promote the culture of peace - Miyetti Allah
Alhassan also noted that the reason why sentiment in the public domain is stacked up against herders is because they don't have their voices heard properly in the country despite suffering an alleged genocide.
He said despite the group's documentation of the crisis, it wants to promote a culture of peace and forgiveness among all concerned parties.
He said, "The pastoralist have this disadvantage of not having their voices heard properly in this country, but the data of the genocide against the pastoralist is in the record. "The post-election violence in 2011, we have documented 411 innocent pastoralists killed just in Southern Kaduna for nothing. We have documented all the crises but because we want peace, we want to promote the culture of peace and forgiveness hoping that our neighbours we're staying with will still allow us to continue to do our economic business. "The issues of arms is a question of the security and I believe they're on top of it. With the arrests they're making, we must acknowledge the efforts of security agencies have put in in trying to curtail criminalities in this country. "That is why people calling for the removal of the service chiefs are either the corrupt politicians or the ones working for them. We should not fault that gambit."
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has repeatedly asked the federal government to crackdown on the leadership of Kautal Hore whom he has blamed for the spate of killings that have happened in the state after they stood in open rebellion of the state's anti-open grazing law.
While speaking on Monday, Alhassan demanded that the state government apologise to Kautal Hore for spreading falsehoods about the group and promoting propaganda against it.