Sultan indicts FG, security agencies over herdsmen killings
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday, indicted the federal government and security agencies over the killings of farmers by Fulani herdsmen across the country, including Benue and Taraba states.
He also exonerated Mayetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN), of any culpability in the recent killings of farmers in some parts of the country by suspected Fulani herdsmen. The Sultan spoke on a day hundreds of Benue indigenes stormed the National Assembly, Abuja, protesting against federal government’s proposed cattle colony.
This is even as Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday, dismissed insinuations that the state government had 6,000 armed militia, just as suspected herdsmen also, yesterday, killed a pregnant woman in Ekiti, barely 24 hours after Governor Ayo Fayose had a meeting with MACBAN, farmers and local hunters in the state.
Speaking at the General Assembly of Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, |(IDFP), in Abuja, Sultan Abubakar III, expressed shock that the federal government and security agencies had done nothing about herdsmen bearing arms in the country, despite the series of attacks they had launched against communities in different parts of the country.
Noting that MACBAN had no control over any Fulani man, Sultan Abubakar, who attributed the massacre of innocent lives to the handiwork of some criminal elements, charged the Federal Government and security agencies to urgently fish out perpetrators of the heinous crime and prosecute them.
He asked: “How is it possible for Fulani to attack settlements or communities to carry out killings of innocent people, destroy property and disappear without trace?
Sultan Abubakar said Miyetti Allah was formed over 32 years ago to cater for the welfare and advance the growth of Fulani business.
He said that any Fulani man carrying arms and ammunition was not a member of the Miyetti Allah, explaining that the group which is now under his leadership as Grand Patron, was never a criminal group.
Sultan Abubakar, who berated those calling for proscription of the group, challenged them to as well call for proscription of other Socio-ethnic organisations such as Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Arewa Consultative Forum, among others.
He said: “Miyetti Allah doesn’t control any Fulani man. Calling for proscription of Miyetti Allah is equivalent to calling for the proscription of other ethnic organisations like Afenifere, ACF, Ohanaeze and others.
“It was formed 32 years ago and these crises were not there. I am the patron and we have never asked Fulani herdsman to kill anybody.
“Any Fulani man caught killing is a criminal and should be treated as such. What are the security agencies doing? If they have failed, they should accept that they have failed. “What is going on is not an ethnic problem; it’s not a religious problem, it’s an economic problem.”
On the way out, the Sultan, who advocated dialogue, said: “What we need is to sit down and dialogue As religious leaders, we have to be very careful what we say, because it carries weight; our followers listen to us very seriously.
“We must believe in one another, trust and love ourselves because that is what our two major religions advocate. We must continue to speak with one voice. We should not be labeling everybody a criminal because his brother is a criminal.
“People are saying, label Miyetti Allah a terrorist group. No, we are not terrorists and can’t join terrorism.”
The killings in Benue State, he recalled: “This thing didn’t start today. In the past eight years, I have been to Benue many times to discuss this issue.
“We had met for hours and reached agreements, yet nothing has been implemented. Why? The former governors of Benue are still alive and they know all these.
“Even the present governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, had written to me to come again with my peace mission, but we had not had the opportunity before this round of crisis.
“We must come to the bottom of this issue. How come these Fulani men are carrying guns without the security men knowing?
“I keep on repeating it, things are not okay, but they are not as bad as they are made to look, especially in the social media. Let’s go round and speak to one another, not just staying in our comfort zones.’’