FEATURE ARTICLE

Okwudili Ben Okanume, SnrThursday, February 1, 2018
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GRAZING LANDSCAPES FOR TERROR HERDERS

This is not a way of life….Under the cloud of war. It is humanity hanging itself on a cross of iron. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) General, 34th President of the United States

he above citation succinctly affirms Tom Clancy's book title; The Sum of All Fears. Aggrieved Nigerians are reeling from fears as their worst nightmares reverberate before the world. In spite of several signs of an impending doom, the recent massacres in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen have jolted Nigerians caught in nightmarish blood-cuddling Halloween. Dan Brown in his 2013 book, Inferno, declared that "the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who in moral crisis maintain their neutrality." This is the time for patriotic Nigerians to speak up. Silence demonstrates either crass madness or applauds. Nigeria is under siege as innocent citizens are mowed in senseless killings by Fulani herdsmen. Some wretched politicians, quark religious leaders, unintuitive journalists, unpatriotic and naïve citizens gawk, fret and epitomize savage terrorists as Fulani herdsmen. The trademarks of these so called Fulani herdsmen are similar to the devastative strategies deployed by Sudanese janjaweed who killed, raped and razed black Muslim populations in Darfur, Sudan.

The Janjaweed militia, of Arad camel and cattle nomadic extraction, were armed with military arsenal by Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir (Crime against humanity fugitive) to obliterate Negro Muslims and seize their fertile farmlands. This is precisely being replayed by persistent Fulani herdsmen onslaught (kidnapping and razing farms) against former secretary of the federal government, Chief Olu Falae in Ondo State.

In his book, The State of Africa, Martin Meredith (2011,p.598) noted, "its origins lay in an age-long conflict over land between nomadic Arab pastoralist and settled 'African' agriculturalists that intensified during the 1980's as a result of drought and increasing desertification. Arab pastoralist moving southwards from the arid North of Darfur into areas occupied by black Muslim tribes…were involved in series of violent clashes. …Arab militias known as janjaweed were licensed to kill, loot and rape at will. They burned to the ground hundreds of villages, killed thousands of tribesmen, raped women en masse, abducted children and stole cattle."

The destructive cows rampaging Nigeria's agricultural sector are hoards owned by powerful cabal who deploy heavily armed militia to escort the herdsmen in a clandestine commando style in the jungle or Petrified Forest. Night time air drops serve as conduit of supplies for the militia team. At the slightest resistance by farmers who dare protest demolition of Nigeria's food supply chain, a phone call sets in motion savage recriminations. Recent C.I,A leaked memo reveal that these escort militia besides Sudan, were trained in Libya, Afghanistan, Mali, and remnants of Boko Haram who infiltrate Nigeria's porous borders through Chad, Niger Republic and Cameroon.

Some Nigerians blame traditional rulers who appropriated communal lands for cattle grazing, and politicians, like former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu who established safe-haven enclave at Lokponta for Northerners. However, law-abiding Fulani have been conducting their herding and slaughter business without rancour, these Fulani terrorists are not after selling cows, crazing colonies, not even islamization; it is imprudent to sell cows to a decapitated population. Far worse, they are land grabbers deployed to slaughter and displace indigenous peoples of Central and Southern regions of Nigeria due to desertification of Northern regions, Boko Haram insurgency and fulfil an orchestrated agenda long foretold. In Biafra Africa Died: The Diplomatic Plot Emefiena Ezeani (2013,p.109) observed that barely eleven days after independence, October 12, 1960, the Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello was reported in the Parrot newspaper to have declared, "the new nation called Nigeria should be an estate from our great-grand father Ottoman Dan Fodio. We must RUTHLESSLY prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to have control over their future."

Some Nigerians argue that current wave of savage Fulani herdsmen is an advance militia before an impending full scale invasion of Central and Southern Nigeria. Not so fast. The advance team were those Arabs, Fulani street urchins who populated the streets from the 1980's till recently, whose children clung to pedestrians until they part with money. These were the panhandlers; Christians gave alms at traffic lights, bus stops, pedestrian crossings and sidewalks. Unwittingly, heart-felt charities have boomeranged in the threat of Fulani herdsmen, killer cows, AK-47's, death and usurpation of ancestral farmlands.

Any rational citizen should cringe and shudder at the suggestion that the government should do something. The loud silence of the current administration, inciting utterances of some Northern elders and posturing of Miyetti Allah should send feverish chills down the spine of doubters. The fact that government officials publicly tagged these invaders as 'foreigners' not only indicts the Immigration service; such admission should incur treason charges. The summation of a failed state, as ranked by Failed States Index, of which Nigeria is among; is a nation whose leaders are incapable of safeguarding lives, properties, marked by infrastructure deterioration and corruption.

In There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, late Chinua Achebe (2012,p.251) has this to say about Nigeria's macabre dance with terrorism, "…Nigeria's federal government has always turned a blind eye to waves of ferocious and savage massacres of its citizens - mainly Christian Southerners; mostly Igbos or indigenes of the middle belt and others with impunity."

In order to curb the menace of Fulani herdsmen, besides restructuring, should be sine qua non. The beauty of American democracy is their constitutional right to maintain a militia, legal right of individual citizens to bear firearms to forestall tyranny. The National Assembly should enact anti-open grazing law, as in Benue State by Governor Samuel Ortom's initiative.

Obnoxious South Africa apartheid was wrecked by global boycott, so too was the bloody diamonds that fuelled the Sierra Leone war. Therefore, the global community in synergy with Central and Southern Nigerians should boycott beef, (whose lives are more important than human lives) from Fulani herders. In the alternative, states can accept to set aside one Local Government Area as grazing colony; the caveat is that the state government will own the cows, diary business, hire staff and manage the grazing colony with no dealing what so-ever with Fulani herdsmen.

In order to protect lives and properties, the constitution should immediately be amended to establish state police or state governors should equip local vigilante with modern combat arsenal. In the absence of government protection, every male above the age of 18, where Fulani herdsmen are poaching for human blood, should equip themselves for combat instead of waiting to be butchered by marauding savages.

The impetus propelling the heinous Fulani herdsmen territorial invasion and their sponsors lie in the misguided assumption that Christians cannot defend themselves. No one has monopoly of violence. This senseless miscalculation to grab indigenous tribal lands with AK-47's either in the guise of grazing routes, grazing colonies or nomadic mambo-jumbo can incite an inferno enough for total annihilation.

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