This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Monday, May 2, 2016
FULANI HERDSMEN IMBROGLIO: NEED FOR CAUTION
3rd May, 2016,
NEED FOR CAUTION
The Nigerian community is currently facing an ethnic controversy as Fulani
herdsmen are being accused of attacking their fellow Nigerians on their
farmlands. The complaints have spread from the plains of Plateau State to Benue
in the North and from Ondo in the South West to Enugu in the South East.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns the alleged killings. In line
with our avowed motto, ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’, we denounce all acts of
violence, all actions capable of disturbing the peace and all statements calculated
to cause public disorder.
We remind the Federal Government (FG) that security of
lives and properties of all Nigerians is its inalienable responsibility. Article 14
Section 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states
that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of
According to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’
Rights, Article 4, Clause 1 & 2, “Human beings are inviolable. Every human
being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his
person.” As a signatory to the African Charter, the FG should take urgent steps
to protect lives and properties and also bring perpetrators of crimes to book.
Nonetheless, MURIC still calls on all stakeholders to
exercise restraintas nothing has so far been proved against anybody. We must
allow the security agencies to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion. All
allegations at this point remain assumptions. Article 7(b) of the African Charter on Human
and Peoples’ Rights stipulates the right to be presumed innocent until proven
guilty by a competent court or tribunal.
We call on Nigerians to consider the huge pressure on the
corporate existence of the country as manifested in the Nigeria-Biafra war of
1967 to 1971, the June 12 saga from 1993 to 1999, the numerous religious crisis
experienced in the country, the Niger Delta militancy over resource control
which is still ongoing, the Boko Haram insurgency which is just about dying out
and the reincarnation of Biafra in form of renewed agitations from the Eastern
All the above took heavy tolls on the Nigerian nation in
terms of human lives and collateral damage and it has been a miracle that
Nigeria has survived all. A new crisis under the guise of attacks by Fulani herdsmen
poses a very serious threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria and no one
can predict its outcome.
It is noteworthy that there are backlashes already. Seven
youths of Northern extinction who engaged in tricycle business in Ugwuaji,
Enugu South Local Government were allegedly killed and secretly buried in
January this year. There are calls by ethnic groups and individuals from the
South East and the South West for Northerners to leave the region.
MURIC considers these calls as premature, unjustifiable
and untenable. The calls for certain ethnic groups to leave particular regions
are tainted with ethnic jingoism. They are as parochial as they are myopic.
Our position is based on facts emerging from police
investigations into alleged Fulani killings and attacks. For example, the Elogba
and the Egba in Benue State clash which claimed 60 lives was blamed on Fulani
herdsmen. The kidnappers of Chief Olu Falae who were citizens of Niger State were
led by one Baba Olu, a Yoruba man, but Fulani herdsmen were blamed for it.
It is didactic that the police have absolved Fulani
herdsmen from blame over the killings in Nimbo community of Enugu State. Equally instructive is the fact
that the Inspector General of Police has issued a similar statement. We advise
Nigerians to stop calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
is sad that pictures of herdsmen in Sudan, Mali,
Niger and Chad brandishing AK 47 rifles are taken from the internet and displayed
to gullible Nigerians as Fulanis on Nigerian soil. This is quite misleading, highly
mischievous and grossly provocative. It is incitement on a large scale. The
Nigerian press is advised to desist from playing to the gallery.
We appeal to Nigerians to separate individuals with
criminal propensity from their tribes and religions. Every Nigerian tribe has its own
criminals, lay-abouts, never-do-wells, busy-bodies and area boys. Yet every
Nigerian ethnic group has its men and women of honour, men and women of timber
and caliber, including Fulanis and Igbos in particular.
We therefore call for objective appraisal of incidents and
caution against generalization, sensationalisation, stigmatization of Fulani
herdsmen and the profiling of Northerners or their religion. It is a time bomb
waiting to explode and none can visualize its reach or its victims.
We must not allow people who nurse anti-Fulani and
anti-North agenda to blow this country apart. Neither should we allow politics
of resentment and unsubstantiated minority claims of marginalisation to becloud
our sense of critical analysis at this point in time. We have all the law we
need to punish the individual Fulani, Igbo or Yoruba if he commits any crime.
But we have no moral right to target a whole ethnic group for annihilation.
In conclusion, MURIC
calls on all Nigerians to allow one love to keep us together. Let us think
Nigeria and stop thinking of ethnicities. Let us rise as one to punish
individual criminals and not their tribes.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)