Why herdsmen took to arm struggle –Miyetti Allah

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From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Bello Bodejo, has claimed that years of deprivation, injustice and neglect forced some aggrieved Fulani pastoralists into arm struggle with the government and local communities.

He alleged that Fulani pastoralists have been treated badly over the years in Nigeria, and in spite of several complaints and calls for change, no respite came their way, thus forcing the aggrieved ones to retire to the bush from where they periodically express their anger through attacks.

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He stated this at the maiden interactive policy dialogue and cultural festival with the theme “the future of Fulani Pastoralists in Nigeria.”

 He said despite the propaganda against Fulani pastoralists, they remain the worst hit by the high level of insecurity in Nigeria.

 “Unarguably, the affairs of the Fulani pastoralists in Nigeria have been relegated to the background with no one talking about issues of concerns that have been raised by the people. No one can doubt our contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria, and yet, Fulani pastoralists have been neglected, relegated and pushed to the wall, hence they are reacting their own way.

“Obviously, the aggrieved Fulani in the bush allegedly making trouble are the ones that might have ran out of patience. If not that I was lucky, I would have been armed with AK-47 rifle or what is more than that, our interest are not considered in the plans of the government.

“For an average herdsman in Nigeria and beyond, his cattle is all he has, in addition to his family. But lately, he has been forcefully dispossessed of his wealth with no justice coming from neither the government nor the communities.

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“Many of them have lost their sources of livelihood, family and other inheritances and nothing is being done about it by the government. Rather there are perceived conspiracy between courts, communities, security agencies to profile the herdsmen in order to get justification for their planned terror against them, but it won’t continue anymore.”

Bodejo said there was need to reach out to these aggrieved Fulani pastoralists, especially through their trusted and reliable channels, traditional rulers and clerics, to make peace. 

He said many of them are openly venting their anger against the government and the society due to the level of injustice and deprivation they have suffered.

“We have tried to make peace, but it seems the government is not interested in doing that because many suggestions that we have made have not been implemented. These aggrieved herders have leaders, traditional and religious, that they listen to, so, those people should be invited to intervene in the peace building process.”

Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, in his remarks, suggested a dialogue that would be championed by sincere people as the only way to end the crisis. 

“These people apparently took to arms because of the neglect and disregard to issues of their welfare and development. Besides, they saw that the world was moving faster than they could catch, and nothing was being done to change their fortunes.”

Gumi called for an end to the ethnic profiling of Fulani pastoralists by the police, communities and even ethnic militias, which had led to unprecedented attacks on their lives and sources of livelihood.

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