Breaking News

Herdsmen Go Grazing armed to the teeth

As the manhunt for killer herdsmen
responsible for the recent carnage in Benue
State intensifies, what appears to be the lead
on the possible direction security operatives
need to beam their searchlight on may have
Sources told Sunday Sun that while those
behind the killings and other high profile
crimes, including kidnapping for ransom and
cattle rustling are indeed largely of Fulani
extraction, they maintained it is erroneous and
misleading to dub every Fulani cattle herder a
Generally, there are three different types of
Fulani based on settlement patterns: the
nomadic or pastoral or Bororo, the semi
nomadic and the settled or “town Fulani” who
are also known as Fulani Ngida. The pastoral
Fulani move around with their cattle
throughout the year. Typically, Bororo do not
stay around for long stretches not more than
two-four months at a time. The semi-nomadic
Fulani who happen to settle down temporarily
at particular times of the year, or move around
beyond their immediate surroundings, and
even though they possess livestock, they do
not wander away from their fixed or settled
homestead. The settled or town Fulani are
easily identified with their communities and
are easily traceable since they have permanent
It was gathered that while there are indeed
three categories of Fulani, two of these
categories, the settled or town Fulani
otherwise known as Fulani Ngida and the
Bororo are more popular in Nigeria. The
Bororo, besides having no traceable
addresses, are also known for their wild
nature. In addition to these, they are believed
to migrate perpetually with their cattle,
traveling from as far as Mali and Niger
Republic to Nigeria and other West African
countries in search of greener pasture for their
Although the same blood is said to flow in
both the Fulani Ngida and the Bororo, the
latter, Sunday Sun learnt, have more wayward
elements in the mould of the street urchins in
the Southern part of the country, most of
whom resort to criminalities to survive.
The Bororo many of whom are said to be wild
in nature owing to their upbringing, which
sources claim is often devoid of all forms of
education and religious orientation, largely
reside in the bush from where the criminal
elements among them launch their
operations. “This set of Fulani neither believe
in the existence of God nor worship God. This
perhaps informs the reason for their
unforgiving disposition whenever they are
offended. No matter how long the offence may
last, they will always come back for a revenge
until there is nobody to attack again,” a
source said.
The criminals among the Fulani subset are
alleged to be responsible for high profile
kidnappings along major highways in the
country including the Abuja-Kaduna highway
and Abuja-Lokoja. They have also been linked
to cattle rustling and killings of fellow Fulani.
No fewer than seven of such criminal herders
were sentenced to life imprisonment in April
2017 for their involvement in the abduction of
a former Secretary to the Government of the
Federation SGF, Chief Olu Falae who was
kidnapped from his farm in Ilado Village,
Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo
state in September, 2015.
In a related development, 28 of such
suspected Fulani criminals terrorising the
Abuja-Jere-Kaduna highways were also
arrested last December. The suspects were
apprehended by the IGP Special Tactical
Squad upon the raids carried on some of their
identified den, camps, black spots and
hideouts in the forests located in the Federal
Capital Territory, Niger and Kaduna states.
Lately, however, these criminals are believed
to have constituted themselves into avengers
for their tribesmen who lodge cases of
injustice with them. A source informed Sunday
Sun that once vengeance-seeking members of
a community lodge complaints against
anybody or any community, the group could
go as far as other neighbouring West African
countries to hire fighters, launch attack
against the offending community, after which
they disappear.
Senator Kabiru Marafa from Zamfara State
confirmed this much last week while raising
the alarm about his state being under the
siege of militias. According to him, “My state
is now under the control of foreign militias.
They move freely with their arms. I said it on
Tuesday. I was home during the fuel crisis. In
my own town, they (militia groups) are the
ones that judge between the people. The
people no longer go to the local authorities. If
there is a problem, they go to the bush and
tell these people that I have a problem with
somebody. That is a national emergency. In
all local governments, this is the truth of the
matter,” the lawmaker disclosed.
It was gathered that the scenario as painted
by Senator Marafa is also obtainable in some
other states in the North and might have been
largely responsible for the recent upsurge in
the activities of killer herdsmen in Benue with
the recently passed Anti-Open Grazing Law
and the setting up of Livestock Guards by the
state government, fueling the latest attacks.
Before the attacks, allegations of extortion
and high-handedness were said to have trailed
the activities of the livestock guards since
they were commissioned to enforce the new
law. Sunday Sun was informed that some of
the livestock guards were allegedly
confiscating the cattle of herders who ran foul
of the new law and, in some cases, feathering
their own nests with herders’ misfortune.
Piqued by the incessant harassments from the
livestock guards and the losses incurred from
their confiscated cattle, some the affected
Fulani herders, Sunday Sun gathered, resorted
to seeking the help of criminal minded Fulani
who responded by launching the coordinated
attacks on the affected communities in the
state and leaving no fewer than 73 people
But reacting to this, a former commissioner of
police in Lagos, Abubakar Tsav disagreed with
the claim that the attacks on Benue
communities were caused by the Anti-Open
Grassing Law in the state. He noted that
similar killings had been witnessed in the
state in the past when the law was yet to be
made. He called on the Federal Government to
set up a commission of enquiry to look into
the problem with a view to ascertaining the
root cause.
His words: “Nobody has been able to find the
root cause of these killings. The best place to
start is to try to know the root cause. In the
past, herdsmen lived amongst the people and
there was no such problem, why is it
happening now? The government should
constitute a federal commission of enquiry,
which will cover all areas where herdsmen had
killed. It is only when we know the root cause
that we can start tackling it.”
“In Benue State, there was no anti-open
grassing law when so many people were killed
in Agatu and when they made this law they
still killed so many people in Logo and Guma
local government areas. Let the government
constitute a commission of inquiry to find out
the real cause. We need to hear the side of
the herdsmen. Are they the ones killing or
some people are coming to support them and
in the process killing people,” he queried.
Tsav added that there was also a need to
probe into the activities of livestock guards,
insisting only a commission of enquiry would
reveal the truth behind the problem. “These
livestock guards are armed but they have not
been trained in the use of firearms. We also
understand that a lot of them have cattle of
their own and that they make a lot of money
and whenever there is problem between them
and the Fulani, the government gives them
money. So, they take delight in causing
problem. It is possible. But the truth can only
be known when there is a commission of
inquiry in place,” he declared.
In his own contribution, Col. Gabriel Ajayi
(retd) said it was wrong to view the problem
of Fulani herdsmen as a security challenge.
He posited that apprehending and prosecuting
the perpetrators of the killings as directed by
the Senate would not produce the desired
According to him, “The problem of Fulani is
not a security problem; it’s a Nigerian
problem and the current security approach we
are giving it can’t be used to solve the
problem. Everybody wants the culprits to be
arrested and prosecuted, will that bring back
those people that had been killed and will that
solve the problem?
“We need to immediately restructure this
country and let the people take care of
themselves. Let us go back to what we were
as at October 1, 1960,” he said.
While recalling that nomadic herdsmen had
always been part of Nigeria without the tale of
bloodletting, he questioned the genesis of
their resolve to carry firearms in the cause of
their pastoral task. “The Bororo had always
been part of the nomadic herdsmen in Nigeria
since I was a child and then, they were
carrying only sticks as at that time and not
“Who are the owners of the cows that are
being herded around Nigeria? Are the Bororo
the owners of these cows? Are the nomadic
herdsmen who are not Bororo the owners of
these cows? Is it possible for the herders to
carry their cattle all the way from Mali to
Nigeria? And how will they give back the
money to the owner when they finish selling it
here? Let’s take a closer look at what is
actually happening in Nigeria and let’s take it
as a national problem, and face it squarely.
“Those people are the very owners of the
cattle and they’re Nigerians. So, don’t let us
be under any illusion that the cattle belong to
some people outside Nigeria,” he said.
Proffering further solution to the problem,
Ajayi said Nigeria should consider phasing
out the species of cows currently being reared
in Nigeria, which, according to him, cannot be
ranched. He maintained that as long as this
species of cows continue to roam the country,
farmers/herdsmen face-off will continue to be
a problem.
“There are two types of cows: those that feed
on dry leaves and those that feed on wet
What the government needs to do is to buy all
the cows around from all these herdsmen and
share it out and reintroduce the cows that eat
dry leaves that can be ranched. The cows we
have today cannot be ranched, because they
eat wet leaves and not dry leaves, so they
need to graze around. And as long as they
graze around, there will always be problems
between herdsmen and communities where the
cows are grazed,” he said.
Ajayi also called on state governors to seek to
assert themselves as chief security officers in
their respective states to be able to put full
state security machinery in place and
safeguard the lives and property of the people
in their respective states.
“There should be an opportunity for all the
state governors to visit the Supreme Court
now to seek the constitutional interpretation
of what it means to be the chief security
officer of their states. What does the
constitution anticipate them to use to be the
chief security officer of their states? How
does the constitution expect them to act as
chief security officer of their states?
“Everybody is blaming the governors for this
and that, what will the governors use to
protect anybody? The governors have no
police; they are not the owners of the security
apparatus in their states. The security
architectures in their states are Federal
security architectures. So how do the
governors operate? The governors should go
to court and seek out these problems once
and for all,” he submitted.
Despite the order given to the police for the
arrest of suspected herdsmen responsible for
the horrendous killing of more than 70 people
in Benue State three weeks ago, the killing
continued unabated in the state and some
other parts of the country.
The Senate had last week given the Inspector-
General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, a 14-day
ultimatum to investigate and arrest the
perpetrators of the killings. The lawmakers’
position was sequel to the consideration of a
report of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the
Review of the Current Security Infrastructure in
Nigeria. The committee had earlier visited
Benue to ascertain the level of killings in the
The state, which prides itself as the food
basket of the nation was on New Year’s day,
thrown into mourning, following the massacre
by suspected herdsmen who staged two days
of coordinated attacks on six communities in
the state. The affected communities are
Tomatar, Umenge, Akor villages in Guma,
Governor Samuel Ortom’s home town, and
Ayilamo, Turan, Ngambe-Tiev in Logo Local
Government Area of the state, leaving at least
73 persons dead, including nine members of
the state livestock guards, who also had their
operational vehicle burnt by the invaders. The
attack also left several persons with varying
degrees of injuries while scores of houses and
property were razed and destroyed.
But in spite of the hue and cry the killings
have generated in the country, the
perpetrators, who are believed to be Fulani
herders appear unyielding in their resolve to
inflict more sorrow on people of the state.
According to the state governor, no fewer than
six people were reported killed in fresh attacks
in Logo and Guma local government areas of
the state last week by criminals suspected to
be herdsmen.
Similarly, a pregnant woman was reported to
have lost her life to killer herders in Ekiti last
Thursday. The incident, Sunday Sun gathered,
happened barely 24 hours after Governor Ayo
Fayose had a peace meeting with Miyetti Allah
Cattle Breeders Association, farmers and local
hunters in the state.
Security experts, however, expressed the fear
that the attacks and killings by criminal
elements suspected to be herders may
continue, unless the government decides to
approach the problem more decisively, saying
the current arrangement where the problem is
left in the hands of security agents, might not
yield the best result.
According to them, killer herders will continue
to remain elusive to security operatives not
only until the root cause of the problem is
identified, but also until the government is
able to sieve the grains from the chaffs, as
according to them, not all Fulani herdsmen
are killers as currently being peddled. (Sunday

No comments