Fulani Herdsmen are also kidnapped, robbed – Miyetti Allah South-East chairman speaks

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Alhaji Gidado Siddiki is the South-East Zonal Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria. He tells RAPHAEL EDE some of the measures the association has put in place to curtail criminal activities allegedly carried out by Fulani people in the zoneSince when have you been living in the South-East?I have been living in the South-East since 1986. I have also been living cordially and in harmony with the people. They take me as their brother; we work together, and they support me in all my business endeavours.What has been your experience in that period?My experience with the Igbo people has been good; they are peace-loving. They accommodate strangers more than the locals and they are hard-working. Anytime there is anything to discuss, they involve us.What made you come up with a ban on herdsmen who have no family in the South-East from rearing cattle?It is the decision of the entire herdsmen living in the South-East. We go for meetings and everybody has seen that these intruders are the people causing trouble in any state. If staying in your state would bring peace to you, why do you want to go to another state to cause problems for others? In the South-East, most of the time, you see people leaving minors with their cattle and going back to stay somewhere else. Those minors don’t even know the value of the cows they are rearing let alone the value of somebody’s property. They can destroy somebody’s farm because they don’t know its value. And when you destroy somebody’s crops, it is the same cows that would be sold to pay for whatever was destroyed. So if you cannot come here with your family so that we can monitor your minors, how they rear the cows, take your cows and children back to where you are staying so that they will monitor you very well there. Those of us (Fulani herdsmen) staying here in the South-East are with our cows and with this development, somebody from Anambra cannot come to Enugu; he has to stay in Anambra and somebody from North-West, North-Central, North-East to the South-East. We will not take that because if they are the ones bringing problems to those of us here, let them go; we will stay on our own.How would you describe the security situation in the country?First, I will say that I am very disappointed with the way people take human lives and how people are politicising the security situation in the country. Lives and property are important and should be protected but people destroy them because of politics. I’m saying this because, on social media, some media houses speak against Fulani herdsmen as if they are the only people causing havoc in this country; as if they are the only people who are criminals; as if they are the only people who don’t want peace in this country, and to me it is not true. The Fulani man likes peace and he doesn’t like any crisis. But in any race or tribe, you cannot say everyone is a saint. In any society or tribe, I know a criminal is not a friend to anybody; he can victimise anybody. Our people are suffering from kidnapping – they kidnap our people and collect ransoms. They rob our people in the bush but nobody will hear about the cases because they don’t come out to narrate their experience. So people don’t know what they face. Our people are killed in crises and tribal wars in this country. Our people are suffering from so many things and they are not spared from all these problems but regrettably all the time, they are the only people that are being accused of being criminals. I don’t know where these accusations are coming from. Is it that the politicians want to use it as a political tool to fight another political party? Now in Nigeria, there is no criminal again apart from the Fulani; it is surprising to me. When there is any attack, kidnapping, robbery, Fulani herdsmen will be used as the headline and blamed for it.People say in those days, Fulani people lived peacefully with host communities, what changed?I think people who are in the opposition want to fight the government. When I say the government, I don’t mean only the Federal Government but government at all levels. Government at all levels have oppositions who don’t want them to be there. There is no administration in the South-East that has not put in place mechanisms to ensure peace. But still, people are against such efforts. I think they just want to create instability and destroy what the governors had put in place. In Enugu, for instance, we have peace and security committee. In this committee, we have leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and representatives of farmers, herders, government, and security agencies.I don’t know why people will be castigating the governors of the South-East that they are not doing anything. However, if any Fulani man or Igbo man is found to be a criminal or kidnapper, such a person should be treated as a criminal. We should not refer to people of an entire tribe as criminals.What feedback have you received from herdsmen regarding the ban?This decision was made by the herders living in the South-East. I am the chairman of a group and I am not talking for myself; I am talking on behalf of my group. We met and agreed on this; that is why I can come out to say it.PlayPlay
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