A group of professionals of Nigerian ethnicities both at home and in diaspora, the International Alliance for Justice and Peace (IAJP), has condemned a statement credited to the National President of Miyeti Allah, Alhaji Bello Abdullahi Bodejo.
Bodejo, in an interview published by The Sun newspaper on January 23, was quoted to have said that, “all the lands in this country belong to the Fulani…What we consider is the areas that have cow food. If the place is good for grazing, we don’t need anybody’s permission to go there.”
But the group in a statement signed on Monday by its Convenor, Dr Seun Kolade, said the Miyeti Allah leader made the incendiary declaration in response to the seven days quit notice issued to all unregistered herders by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
The governor had given seven days notice to all unregistered herders illegally occupying forest reserves in the state, in order to clear the forests of criminal elements who are using the forests as hideouts to carry out a brutal campaign of terror and kidnapping. In the same notice, the governor also warned unregistered herders to desist from illegally engaging in open grazing outside of stipulated hours and routes, declaring an end to child labour in pastoralism, banning under-aged persons from herding cows.
According to IAJP, “this reckless statement from Bodejo amounts to an open declaration of war, not just on the people of Ondo State, but on the people of South West in general.”
“The declaration has absolutely no basis in law or common sense. It is even more bizarre given the tense situation in the land and the frayed nerves of the host communities who have long endured, without respite, the murderous campaign and brutalisation at the hand of rampaging terrorists.
“Given the grave and grievous nature of this development, we are bewildered that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government is so exercised about a recent visit of Chief Sunday Adeyemo (AKA Sunday Igboho) to Igangan in Oyo state, while it has remained silent about this incendiary statement from Miyeti Allah. It is also against the backdrop of a dreadfully misjudged intervention from the presidency, which had earlier contradicted and opposed the lawful and necessary steps taken by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to tackle incessant crimes and terrorist activities in the state.
“We fear that the one-sided interventions of the Buhari administration have now fallen into a pattern that can be rightly described as tacit support for illegality and active complicity in the criminal campaign of terror unleashed by heavily armed herders on host communities in Ondo and Oyo States and across the southern states. This is in clear breach of its obligations to protect life and ensure security of all Nigerian citizens both under the Nigerian Constitution as well the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 to which Nigeria is a signatory.
“At 78 years of age, President Muhammadu Buhari is unwittingly or defiantly dragging the nation to the precipice of a civil war. We call on the International Community to call the Nigerian president to order, and urge him to take urgent steps to stop the drums of war,” the group said.
It added that as first steps, the Nigerian government must do the following;
- Openly declare support for Governor Akeredolu and Ondo State Government interventions with regard to clean up of the forest reserves and regulation of herder activities in Ondo State. This declaration should be backed up with full support of the security agencies to carry out the order. This step should also be replicated in other states.
- Support the security forces in Oyo to, as a matter of urgency, fish out the killers of Dr Fatai Aborode in Igangan, an indigent farmer and owner of Kunfayakun Green Treasures Ltd hacked down by suspects believed to be Fulani herdsmen on Friday 11, December, 2020, after collecting a ransom; Alhaja Sherifat Adisa, Chief Executive Officer of Subawah Petroleum, killed together with two 9-year-old boys along Idere road in Ibarapa by suspected Fulani herdsmen on Saturday 2, January, 2021; Alhaji Fatai Yusuf, a popular traditional medicine expert, popularly known as Oko Oloyun killed on Thursday, January 23; 2020 and a host of other citizens that have been victims of the sanguinary activities of suspected Fulani herdsmen in Ibarapa and other parts of the country.
- Investigate the alleged involvement of Seriki Fulani of Oyo State, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir in the kidnap ring in Igangan where it is alleged that he has facilitated the transfer of millions of naira to terrorist kidnappers in the area. In several cases, it is alleged, only mutilated bodies were returned to victims’ families after ransoms had been paid.
The also urged the Nigerian government to take urgent steps to allay the fears of non-Fulani ethnic groups across the country who it noted now believe that the Buhari administration is only committed to using the full resources of the federal government to promote Fulani interests.
“The Buhari government needs to reassure all citizens that it will serve the interest of all. This is in line with its electoral and constitutional mandate, and failing this, its legitimacy will be called to question- not only by hapless and long suffering Nigerians, but the wider international community who recognise that credible and fair democratic governance in Nigeria is essential for the stability of the entire West African region,” it added.