SWITZERLAND, JUNE 21 – The Apex Igbo and Yoruba socio-cultural organizations, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere have responded to calls by the Miyetti Alah Cattle Breeders Association(MACBAN) to establish Fulani vigilante groups in the SOuth East.
President-General of apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo said the group would resist Fulani vigilantes in Igboland, while the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described the proposal as a provocative agenda.
Accusing the herdsmen of violating Igbo women in their farms, among other crimes, Nwodo noted that if such request was granted the herdsmen, it will 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 pan-Yoruba socio-political orgnisation, Afenifere, described it as a provocative agenda. Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, who described the call as an insult, said: “It is a provocative agenda which shows that there is a clear agenda to provoke war. “The South East has come under the siege of marauding herdsmen with authorities in the land shying away from enforcing law and order. “The height of it all is now this insulting call by Miyetti Allah. They should be careful how they poke their wicked fingers into the eyes of the people. The gentility of a lion is never a sign of cowardice.”
These came as the 36 state governors of the federation late Wednesday night raised a committee to hammer out a common position on the clamour for state police. MACBAN and security stakeholders spoke during the South-East Security Summit organized by the South-East Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture, SECCIMA, in collaboration with South-East Governors Forum, SEGF, in Enugu.
Speaking on how it affects herdsmen, National President of MACBAN, Alhaji Mohammadu Kirowa, regretted that once insecurity was mentioned in Nigeria, the first idea that came to mind was Fulani herdsmen. Represented by the National Secretary, Alhaji Baba Usman Ngelzerma, MACBAN noted that South-East is a good host, which was the reason it condemned all forms of violence and criminality in the same manner patrons such as the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano and the Lamido of Adamawa did.
The group, however, said it wanted establishment of Fulani Youth Vigilante group, noting that the youth body would work with security agencies, the neighbourhood watch or vigilante to ensure security in all communities, as was done in Enugu State.
“We will solicit 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,” Kirowa said.
In his remarks, Chairman of South-East Governors Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi, stated that the region would not engage in policy of exclusion to limit any farmer or herder, but stressed that rules of engagement should be observed in every relationship. Umahi, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, said:
“We will continue to accommodate the Miyetti Allah but our plea to them is that as we are magnanimous to allow settlers, every community has a custom that needs not to be violated. It is the violation that breeds problem.
“I believe that at the end, resolutions will generate further national dialogue, promote agenda-setting and a solution to the lingering national insecurity. All we need is the good idea of one or two men to find direction and I believe this summit will do that.”