Will the Anti Open Grazing Law Halt the Dreadful Fulani Militia?, By Ayodele Adio

The real problem, if not tragedy, is that there exists a Fulani militia within our polity, which expresses its grievances with assault rifles and the Nigerian state has been grossly incompetent in containing them. As such, this militia has grown in confidence and influence to the extent that it is being compensated for unleashing mayhem on innocent people.

Despite the dusk to dawn curfew imposed in Bassa local government by the governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lalong, a heavily armed militia invaded Nkyie-Doghwro community, leaving 29 persons dead. This agonisingly depressive barbarism has led to a mass burial owing to several killings in the last three weeks, where women and children have been murdered helplessly in cold blood. Taegbe, Ancha and now Nkyie-Doghwro village in Bassa have incurred the wrath of the notoriously “unforgiving” and blood thirsty Fulani militia.

The excuse for the failure of the military to avert the bloodletting (even with an imposed curfew) was because, as explained by Captain Umar Adams, spokesperson of the ‘Operation Safe Haven’ in an interview with PUNCH, “it was dark and they were many in number, our men didn’t know there were others who came from another direction”. Really? You didn’t know? The reason there was a curfew in that local government in the first place was to curtail the draconian Fulani militia after they had unleashed mayhem in a neighbouring village barely 24 hours earlier. Is Captain Adams insinuating that the state is unable to protect its citizens from the fury of the Fulani militia? Can he also explain how not even one of the “so many” militia could be killed or even apprehended by the military? Is it until there are no more lands to conduct ‘mass burials’ before they act decisively?

The military command in Jos certainly has questions to answer, and I expect that the elected representatives of the communities in the National Assembly call for hearings on this issue. ‘This madness has to stop’.

There seems to be a growing consensus that an ‘Anti open grazing law’ will somehow drastically reduce these killings and check the excesses of the Fulani militia. It is no surprise that a youth group led by Musa Bagos in Jos, is calling for the Plateau State government to join Taraba and Benue States in outlawing open grazing. The idea that such a law will restore sanity is for me overly simplistic and in many ways ‘grandiose’. If a dusk to dawn curfew, with a military supposedly on high alert, could not avert the Miango killings, then I wonder what such a law would achieve. In fact, I have fears that such a law will further annihilate the Fulani militia and consequently exacerbate the crisis.

The moment citizens lose confidence in the state to protect their lives and property, the result is always anarchic, as victims result to self-defense, further fueling the vicious cycle of violence.

The real problem, if not tragedy, is that there exists a Fulani militia within our polity, which expresses its grievances with assault rifles and the Nigerian state has been grossly incompetent in containing them. As such, this militia has grown in confidence and influence to the extent that it is being compensated for unleashing mayhem on innocent people. The moment citizens lose confidence in the state to protect their lives and property, the result is always anarchic, as victims result to self-defense, further fueling the vicious cycle of violence.

The government and the security agencies under its supervision must admit to themselves that they are failing in their core and cardinal responsibility of protecting every Nigerian. This bloodletting is becoming ‘one, too many’. Think of the cries of mothers who witnessed the killing of their children; think of husbands who saw their wives raped helplessly, or children who were orphaned before their very eyes. Think of villages razed to the ground, of farmlands leveled and the numerous mass burials. Think of these things dispassionately and act decisively, knowing so well that no single group has the monopoly of violence.

We need to overhaul our national security policy and the time to act is now.

Ayodele Adio is co-host of a Lagos radio programme.

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