In all Nigerian newspapers, spine chilling stories run alarmingly about Fulani herdsmen armed to the teeth with strange, up until now, unknown and indeed uncustomary “accessories”, entering villages across the country, leaving death and destruction in their wake.
These unusual adornments, not beads, carved looms nor amulets, but ferocious, alien looking foreign made high grade AK 47 Killer weapons.
For centuries, if not thousands of years in Africa, herders and sedentary farmers have existed together peacefully as neighbours. Pastoralists, mainly from the Fulani ethnic group, are concentrated in the Sahel, a semi-arid strip below the Sahara desert running across West Africa. During the long dry season, they would traditionally head down south where, in return for being allowed to graze their animals, the herders’ cattle would fertilise the farmers’ land.
This was the peaceful setting, wrapped around shared cultural values and spirituality which ensured a collaborative sense of communal coexistence centuries un-end, which all benefited from simply because everyone saw themselves as one family. That sadly is no longer the case, as foreign religions have supplanted the native values, and divisions taken foot.
Recently the middle belt of Nigeria has experienced horrors only genocide can describe. Benue state, located in the Middle belt region of Nigeria have seen country side villages levelled with fire, people slaughtered and tens of thousands displaced.
People are afraid to go to their farms and work lest they be killed. Children orphaned and most not in school. Strangely enough the present Nigerian President Buhari, a Fulani man himself, has remained mute as people die, get displaced and loose livelihood owing to the terroristic invasion.
With Benue being the food basket and people unable to farm, the entire nation and the whole of West Africa may have to brace up for an impending food crisis in coming years
Sadly, this recent string of assaults is nothing new in the Middle Belt region. In mid-March this year, Muslim Fulani cattle herders massacred 82 Christians in a village in Benue State, according to Nigerian news reports. Allegedly the Nigerian authorities have been slow to acknowledge these events as covert Christian killings.
“It is the longstanding issue over grazing rights and cattle rustling between the Egba and Fulani people,” police spokesman Ezeala Austin said after the March attack.
Despite the historic tensions Officer Austin cites that, witnesses to the assaults often recount that the herdsmen chanted “Allahu Akhbar” during the attack, the Arabic saying, “God is Great,” which has become associated with jihadist Muslim terrorism worldwide. The herdsmen also continually and clinically target Christian villages.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES