LThe Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), an association of Fulani herdsmen caused an uproar last week when it mooted the idea of establishment of Fulani Youth Vigilante groups in the South East.
According to MACBAN, the association wished to compliment efforts of its host community counterparts and other constituted security apparatus in the zone.
Leaders of the Miyetti Allah disclosed the plan during the South East Security Summit organised by the South East Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture (SECCIMA) held in collaboration with South East Governors Forum (SEGF), in Enugu on Thursday, June 20, 2019.
Alhaji Mohammadu Kirowa, National President of MACBAN, who was spoke during the meeting, regretted that once insecurity was mentioned in Nigeria, the first idea that comes into minds was Fulani herdsmen.
Kiroma, who was represented by Alhaji Baba Usman Ngelzerma, MACBAN National Secretary, maintained that South East had been a good host to his people, hence the body had always condemned all forms of violence and criminalities.
Kirowa said the group planned to establish Fulani Youth Vigilante groups, stressing, “The Fulani Youth Vigilant body will be working with the security, the Neighborhood Watch or vigilante to ensure security in all communities, as it was done in Enugu state.
“We will solicit for your support and cooperation in adopting dialogue where problems exist as a means of brokering peace and to report cases against our members to either the Fulani Youth Vigilante Group, state or local branch of the association.”
Reacting, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural group of Ndigbo, vowed to resist the proposal, even as it accused the herdsmen of violating Igbo women in their farms, among other crimes.
John Nwodo, the Ohanaeze President General, maintained that establishing such vigilante would turn the herdsmen into an army of occupation and an invitation of unavoidable confrontations with the South East youths, hence, the plan must be resisted.
He said that should such request be granted the herdsmen, it would spell doom for Igboland. Nwodo said: “Ohanaeze vehemently opposes any attempt by Miyetti Allah to establish any form of vigilante group in Igboland. These are people who have ravaged our farms, raped our women and slaughtered their husbands. As at today, they technically enjoy immunity from arrest and prosecution. They freely display AK-47 rifles not permitted to be used by civilians.
“Extending this measure to them will turn them into an army of occupation and invite unavoidable confrontations with our youths. We will resist such a policy with every might available to us.
The Miyetti Allah’s plan, it would be noted, came after former President Olusegun Obasanjo had made public an alleged Fulanisation and Islamisation plot. The Federal Government also had announced plans to establish a Fulani Radio and donate N100 billion to Myetti Allah to help check insecurity in the land.
Chief David Umahi, Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi State governor, in his reaction, described the idea as a huge joke, unacceptable to the people of the zone.
Umahi, in a statement, said while there was nothing wrong for non-locals to have a vigilance group for security reasons, he believed that the Miyetti Allah Association was not serious in their proposal and should not use the issue of security to insult the South East leaders.
He stressed that no governor from the zone would allow the Miyetti Allah group to form any vigilance group in the zone, adding that the South East governors were conscious of the enormous responsibility upon their shoulders and would not allow anything capable of compromising the security and development of the zone.
Also, the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), South East Zone, in its reaction, described the request by Miyetti Allah’s plan as a preparation to invade Igboland.
While condemning the plan, NYCN said Miyetti Allah’s request appeared like a confirmation of the rumoured hidden agenda of Fulanisation and Islamisation of Nigeria, even as it warned that any attempt to insult Ndigbo would be met with stiff resistance.
Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural body, Afenifere, saw the plan as an affront on the generality of the Igbo nation. The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), also condemned the plan, saying the Miyetti Allah should rather send their battle-ready Fulani vigilante to the North East geo-political zone to tame the Boko Haram terrorists, who had been wreaking havoc in the country.
Chief Maxi Okwu, a seasoned politician and former factional National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in his reaction, described the Myetti Allah’s plan as the height of provocation, adding that he was shocked that the group’s leader who made the proposal was still walking free without having been called in by security agents.
According to him, “The braggadocio which MACBAN is exhibiting in the past few years is as a consequence of the body language of their grand patron, President Buhari. I call on the South East Governors to call their bluff and damn the consequences. Already, there is palpable fear and anxiety in the South East as a result of this saber rattling by MACBAN, who seem to be the face of Fulani Herdsmen/terrorists.
Hon. Charles Anike, National President of the Eastern Union (EU), said: “Such plan, if it is true, is madness. What are they, Police, or soldiers? These people are taking too much for themselves this time and we must resist them.
“Don’t we have the Bakassi Boys and other vigilante groups in the East? We don’t need Miyetti Allah for anything in the entire Eastern Region. By the way, what is the problem in the East, whether you call it South East or South- South? Are we at war in the East?
“Why can’t the Miyetti Allah form their military squads in the North East and North West, and even North East, where Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers are having free days? This is purely a case of someone who has a log in his eye, but is busy struggling to remove a spec in another’s eye. Please, let the Miyetti Allah and their sponsors first tackle security challenges under their nose before they will help the Easterners.
“We believe that this people have some evil agenda, otherwise, how can they be talking of setting up vigilante groups in the East, when insecurity in the North is already a global scandal. They are plotting to infest the East with the evil going on in their home place. The Eastern Region is very peaceful more than other societies in the country. So, we don’t need vigilante from anybody.
“The present postures of the Miyetti Allah in the issues of security in the country are very suspicious and it goes a long way to show that our security agents have accepted their failure on their mandated duties of securing lives and property in the country. And we expect mass resignation/ retirement of our security leadership.
“We don’t want Miyetti Allah and will resist any attempt to impose them on us. Let the APC government employ them in the North, where we are currently having serious security problems. Why can’t they request that we send the Bakassi Boys to fish out the criminals terrorising the North?
Hon. Dennis Adikwuru, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Imo State, described the proposal as President Buhari’s Islamisation programme and another plot to annihilate the Igbo race, adding that it could be the president’s idea of state and community policing project.
He commended Chief Nwodo, the Ohanaeze helmsman for the prompt rejection of what he termed as planned herdsmen infiltration of South East.