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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

IS NIGERIA FACING A NEW BOKO HARAM IN FULANI HERDSMEN?

IS NIGERIA FACING A NEW BOKO HARAM IN FULANI HERDSMEN?

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH A LONDON BASED COUNTER-TERRORISM EXPERT/ANALYST.

David Otto Endeley is a Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime expert and Chief executive of TGS INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY CONSULTANTS based in London. In this exclusive interview with Paul Ihechi Alagba of FAMILY WRITERS, he talks tough on the activities of Fulani Herdsmen, the possibility of alliance with other terrorist groups like Boko Haram, its influence on secessionist groups such as Biafra agitation and the need for an urgent government attention to tackle the menace having decried the under-reportage on the part of Western media outfits.
David Otto Endeley


SIR, AS A COUNTER-TERRORISM EXPERT WITH GREAT FOCUSES ON AFRICAN NUMEROUS SECURITY CHALLENGES, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ACTIVITIES OF FULANI HERDSMEN IN NIGERIA?


The activities of Fulani herdsmen are under-reported, but it is definitely developing into a major Security threat to local, national and regional stakeholders. The threat which has taken various forms including a religious connotation has caused terror within communities leading to several casualties, destruction and damage to assets and above all, displacement of men, women and children.


HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN THE METHOD OF ATTACKS OF THE HERDSMEN, THE IDEOLOGY DRIVING THEM AND THE POSSIBILITY OF A DIRECT LINK WITH OTHER TERRORIST GROUPS SUCH AS BOKO HARAM?
   
 These local herdsmen have sophisticated weapons and plan strategic attacks on villages and individuals like conventional organised crime groups. This makes it easy for such groups to easily feed terrorist groups like Boko Haram directly or indirectly. Their believe in the Islamic religion acts as a powerful bond and a push factor. This is manifested in their choice of target. Constant attacks against mostly non-Muslim indigenes, churches, schools etc makes it possible for such groups to come in contact and share resources with Boko Haram. This is my opinion, it has little to do with the Salafist Jihadist ideology.

DO YOU MEAN FULANI HERDSMEN CO-RELATES WITH BOKO HARAM?

 We must accept that Fulani herdsmen and their attack on local communities as a result of conflicts on grazing fields has existed for centuries back- during the days of Uthman Dan Fodio, before Boko Haram began in early 2000. It is therefore difficult to affiliate what the Fulani herders are doing with the terrorist activities of Boko Haram. But count no affiliation out as these groups are complex to fully comprehend. The Fulani herdsmen crisis has been a historical problem that requires urgent attention. It may have links to Boko Haram but its particular goals are unique and can be addressed by good governance and good leadership.



IS THERE ANY ISLAMISATION AGENDA IN THE ACTIVITIES OF THE HERDSMEN AS BEING ALLEGED BY NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS ESPECIALLY BIAFRANS?

 The Fulani herdsmen practice Islam as their religion. Most of the places which have experienced clashes have been occupied by Non-Muslims or Christian communities like in the Middle Belt region. It is therefore easy for these conflicts to transcend the issue of land or farm encroachment and express itself into a religious conflict of Muslims against Non-Muslims. Every religion including Christianity has at one point in history embarked on a policy of spreading its faith based by force to those of other or no religion. The Islamic religion is not the only guilty culprit. Religion has become the politics of power.


GIVEN THAT THE HERDSMEN ARE ENCROACHING THE BIAFRA REGIONS AND OTHER SOUTH WESTERN REGIONS, FOR INSTANCE IN DELTA STATE, A MONARCH WAS KIDNAPPED AND LATER MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD, SAME HAPPENED IN SOUTH WEST BUT THIS TIME THE MONARCH WAS RELEASED AFTER RANSOME WAS PAID, THERE HAS ALSO BEEN RECORDED CLASHES IN ENUGU, DELTA etc. DO ALL THESE JUSTIFY THE ASSERTION BY BIAFRANS THAT THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED WOEFULLY IN GUARANTEE MAXIMUM PROTECTION OF THEIR LIVES AND PROPERTIES HENCE, THE MORE NEEDFUL FOR AN INDEPENDENT BIAFRA STATE?


 The Nigerian government has the sovereignty, responsibility and duty to guarantee peace and security of the entire nation and that includes protecting lives and properties of each of their religion, ethnic group irrespective of their political affiliations and perceived grievances against the State or Secessionist demands. If it fails to perform its duty as the constitution demands, good-will citizens have the full right to raise public concerns and even protest peacefully. This is a universal sovereign right that should be afforded to those who experience these clashes in the South East and South South of Nigeria.


DO YOU THINK THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT IS DOING ENOUGH TO CURTAIL THIS MENACE BY THE HERDERS?

At the moment, Nigerian government and the international community has given all its attention to Boko Haram but a deadly blind spot been left unattended with these cattle herders especially in the Middle Belt. The President (Muhammadu Buhari) and his government must recognise that this re-occurring issue with Normads clashing with local communities over grazing land could become a serious national security issue- IF NOT BIGGER AND MIGHTIER THAN BOKO HARAM. The issue must be given heavy weight and attention, if not, the regions of this crisis will not experience lasting peace with ethnic clashes.

IS THERE ANY EFFECT OR RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CURRENT AGITATIONS FOR A SOVEREIGN BIAFRA STATE AND THE ACTIVITIES OF FULANI HERDSMEN?

The push for independence of Biafra State has little effect on the Fulani herdsmen crisis. This is a matter of self determination. The herdsmen are going through a resource ownership conflict.


FINALLY, WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT ON HOW BEST TO TACKLE THIS LINGERING PROBLEM OF THE FULANI HERDERS?


There is need to amend the constitution so that Fulani herdsmen could have specific grazing fields. They should improve farming and industrialisation techniques so that the needs of the local communities who depend solely on agriculture should remain a priority over grazing animals. Effective governance within the affected areas must be established as most of these conflicts take place in ungoverned spaces and remote villages with no governance or security architecture in place. 


David Otto Endeley can be contacted on twitter- @ottotgs

1 comment

  1. I hate this new display format of the Biafra herald, why don't you guys copy Vanguard newspaper format instead?

    ReplyDelete

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