The formation of an armed vigilance force by Fulani herders operating under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore has been vehemently criticised by the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU).
The National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Saleh Alhassan on Monday said the union had commenced plans to set up its own security outfit.
According to the Fulani herders’ union, the creation of an armed unit will safeguard herders across the nation, particularly in Benue State.
He said, “All these vigilantes the state governors are creating are not helping the country. What they are trying to show is that there is a lack of confidence in the authority of the state to maintain law and order, so you now begin to create your own small army.
“If the Fulanis decide, they will create their vigilantes, which our organisation have started working on. Do you know how many millions we will have? It is not thousands, and we have them in millions. Will that go well for the country?
“When you have non-state actors carrying arms, all the volunteers Governor (Samuel) Ortom has recruited, who profiled them? Who knows their real background? Some may be hardened criminals. You come and dress them in Khaki uniforms and begin to hand over weapons to them, that they are the ones to secure the state.”
However, the SOKAPU, in a statement released by its spokesperson, Luka Binniyat on Thursday and made available to SaharaReporters, contended that the decision by the herders’ union to bear arms was a call for anarchy and another civil war in the country.
The union further urged Nigerians who care about the country’s survival as a corporate entity to be alarmed by the unwelcome news that Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a significant sociocultural Fulani organisation, is creating its own armed group.
The statement reads: “The Secretary General of the group, Saleh Hassan, made the grim disclosure four days ago in an interview he granted the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).
“Hassan made unsavoury and disrespectful remarks on Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and disparaged him for forming the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards.
“He vowed that his group was floating its own vigilante group to ‘protect’ its members, boasting that they have the funds for such a curious project.
“Hassan ought to have been called for questioning to find the real motive behind such an unwarranted plan and to ascertain how far his group has gone into the scheme. In fact, the group ought to have been banned. That is what a serious country will do.
“The Fulani, even as a large ethnic group, do not have an exclusive state in almost all the states of Nigeria and are certainly not natives of Benue State or anywhere in the Middle Belt.
“Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore is not a government and therefore cannot make laws that rival that of a government that hosts its members.
“It is therefore absurd as it is preposterous for Hassan to assume that his group can stay on Benue lands and indeed in other states and form parallel security outfits with that of their host’s governments. Such arrogance is rare to come by.
“With over 200 Southern Kaduna Communities sacked and displaced by armed herdsmen and allied criminals after hundreds were killed and more wounded, the sight of an armed Fulani vigilante force on our soil will be a very provocative act that will push other tribes to form the same.
“This group apparently cares less of the sensitivity of other tribal groups. For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Samuel Ortom is the elected Executive Governor of Benue State. By the constitution of Nigeria, he is the Chief Security Officer of Benue State. He is saddled with the most important reason why a government exists: Protection of lives and property of all residents.
“SOKAPU believes that all the laws enacted by Benue State House of Assembly and assented by the governor, protect all residents of Benue State, irrespective of tribe, religion or vocation. We also believe that Benue state laws do not discriminate against tribes or religions. Only breakers of the law have reasons to fear.
“Any attempt therefore, to allow the Fulani to form, arm, kit and operate an armed wing so brazenly, is to also approve other ethnic groups to do same. In other words, SOKAPU is saying that a civil war may spark off if Fulani and other ethnic groups obtain arms for the exclusive reason of protecting themselves as groups under various independent commands.
“President Muhammadu Buhari must not take this lightly, even though he is fond of glossing over serious matters of security concerns.
“For the avoidance of doubt, SOKAPU condemns the formation of Fulani Vigilante force.
“In fact, the Fulani have been accused of horrific crimes in many communities in Nigeria, given the truth that not all Fulani are outlaws.
“It is for the pervasive bloody crimes that criminal elements of Fulani have been accused of that spurred some state governments to create their own Vigilante outfits.
“No state government must allow any tribal group to form its own Vigilante group. It is a direct line to insurgency and separatism.
“At this point, SOKAPU wishes to hail the governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle for forming a volunteer vigilante service which he will train and arm under the supervision of the Nigeria Police.
“SOKAPU believes that all residents of Zamfara State, especially herders and farmers in rural communities of the state will soon enjoy robust security and pursue their livelihood without worry.
“This is what is expected of a responsive and responsible leader.
“Unfortunately, Governor Nasir el-Rufai continues to be only vocal against the armed herdsmen and bandits ravaging his state and has refused to do the needy like his counterparts mentioned in the statement.
“Finally, we encourage other governors of the Middle Belt and the North to copy Governors Ortom and Matawalle in their drive to secure their states.”