Heavily armed men of the Nigerian Army allegedly drove in a convoy of ten Hilux vans on 2nd April, 2014 to Kadarko and Rugar Ardo Sodangi settlements of Keana Local Government, Nasarawa State. They were alleged to have descended on a small group of mourners of Fulani descent. They shot all of them. Fifteen (15) people of Fulani extraction lay dead at the end of the operation. Three (3) were badly injured.
We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), keen on the need to maintain peace and harmony in Nigeria, are deeply concerned particularly as this tragic scenario constitutes the emerging pattern in several parts of Northern Nigeria, particularly in Plateau, Benue and Adamawa.
Cattle-grazing is not new in this country and it had been very peaceful in the past. But recently there appears to be a kind of organized resistance and stereotyping of the Fulani herdsmen. This is what we find disturbing.
Witnesses have reportedly confirmed that efforts at reconciliation between Fulani herdsmen and their neighbours have always been frustrated by external forces who perpetrate fresh killings just when peace accords have either been signed or were about to be signed.
The testimony given by the Osana of Keana, Dr. Emmanuel Elayo also buttresses our suspicion. He expressed displeasure at the way his subjects were massacred. He confirmed that the leader of the troops told him that the operation was led by his superior and that he could not intervene. He added that all calls to head of security agencies in the state did not yield result.
MURIC finds all these disturbing. We wonder if we are not witnessing some kind of ethnic cleansing with the Fulani as the main target. This will have grave consequences for the security question in Nigeria and the country’s corporate existence. It is also very likely to cause ricochets not only in the West African sub-region but also across other parts of the African continent particularly East Africa and the Sudan where the Fulani have roots dating back to centuries.
In essence, Nigeria may be promoting regional tension. This is capable of affecting our relationship with countries in the region. Backlashes against non-Fulani Nigerians doing businesses in those places may become inevitable.
The Nigerian Muslim community as a stakeholder in nation-building is also aware of the symbiotic relationship between the Fulani and the religion of Islam and, by extension, the Muslim Ummah of Nigeria. Any hostile act against the Fulani is therefore an indirect attack on Muslims.Genocide aimed at the Fulani is indubitably mass killing of Muslims. It is war against Islam.
MURIC will not stand akimbo while its members are being haunted from pillar to post. We therefore strongly condemn the callous, criminal and barbaric act of those men in army uniform who massacred innocent Fulanis. We affirm that herdsmen have the right to graze their cattle. It is the duty of the state and Federal Governments to ensure that grazing grounds are provided where farmlands will not be in danger of being destroyed. This has been the practice for decades and we are surprised that it is now becoming an issue.
We call on the defence committees in the National Assembly to investigate the massacre of the innocent Fulani people of Keana Local Government. We remind the Federal Government that it is its duty to provide protection for all Nigerians including Fulani herdsmen throughout the federation. FG should therefore do the needful. Government has the capacity to stop cattle rustling.
We urge the National Human Rights Commission to investigate this atrocity and come up with its report. Finally, we remind Nigerians that a nation seeking peace cannot afford to target any ethnic group for profiling. Muslims throughout the country are urged to continue to live in peace with their neighbours and to eschew all acts capable of causing public disorder. We should be guided by the tragedy in Rwanda.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)