The most dangerous phenomenon known as the Fulani Herdsmen have in recent times been wrecking unimaginable havoc in our beloved country. No day passes without one hearing about the most chilling and utterly disturbing stories of the senseless and wanton destruction of lives and property by these rampaging invaders across the nation operating under the guise of searching for grazing pastures for their cattle.
From the North to the South and the East to the West the ugly stories are the same about the continuous mindless killings, maiming and pillage of villages and hamlets which have become the hallmark of the these notorious criminals.
These so-called Fulani herdsmen are truly notorious in their criminal activities as they have constantly unleashed mayhem, and wanton destruction of lives and property on their innocent Victims across the nation and have always taken advantage of the sheer vulnerability of the impoverished citizens who hopelessly lack adequate protection by the government of the day whose primary responsibility is the protection of lives and property of its citizens.
The most horrifying attacks by these Fulani Herdsmen took place recently where scores of people were reportedly brutally killed in Adamawa State where the entire community was completely razed down and the villagers were forced to take refuge in the neighboring communities. Similar incidents also occurred recently when the dreaded Fulani headsmen attacked villagers at Agatu, a popular yam producing community in Benue State and property including buildings worth millions of naira were equally destroyed by the rampaging criminals called the Fulani herdsmen. The same stories were also reported that the Fulani herdsmen repeated their act of vandalism and mayhem in the same community soon after the earlier incident without the authorities taking adequate measures to protect the helpless and vulnerable Citizens. The same orgy of wanton destruction of lives and property by the vandals called Fulani headsmen also took place recently in both Enugu and Nasarawa States where these rampaging criminals brazenly attacked and killed dozens of innocent citizens and set their houses ablaze in broad day light.
The list of the monumental devastation perpetrated by these vandals on the masses in the rural communities across the nation is endless but regrettably, both the Federal and State authorities appear incapable or unwilling to deal decisively with this catastrophe which indeed poses a huge security threat to the nation.
It is however, heartwarming and a great relief to observe that the Ekiti State Government had recently decided to take the bull by the horn in dealing decisively with these criminal gangs called the Fulani herdsmen. It was indeed a cheering news that an eighteen year old Fulani herdsman was recently convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment by a Magistrate Court for destroying a farm land with his cattle in Ekiti State. Although the two years sentence passed on the convicted herdsman could be said to be inadequate or less severe for the serious crime committed, never-the-less, it is bound to serve as a strong signal and a deterrent to other Fulani herdsmen who tend to be operating with absolute impunity in their act of gangsterism.
The question today in the minds of many Nigerians is simply; Who are these ubiquitous Fulani herdsmen with the myth of seeming invisibility as they often disappear into thin air soon after each of the horrendous attacks on their innocent victims?
The simple answer is that the stock of people called the Fulanis as history had recorded were essentially normadic people in nature who migrated from the North and Central Africa otherwise known as the Arabs in the early centuries and found sanctuary on the West Coast of Africa notably Nigeria, Chad, Niger Republic, and Cameroon among other nations. However, in the case of Nigeria, the Fulanis were said to have settled among mainly the Housa communities in the Northern parts of the Country and later established their rule which today is known as the Caliphate or Emirate Traditional Councils where they effectively held Sway over their Hausa host communities. The apparent domination of the Fulanis over their various host Hausa communities was obviously made possible through their importation of the Islamic religion and the subsequent conversion of the people who were mainly pagans or animists commonly referred to as infidels prior to the advent of the Fulani occupation of the region.
It is instructive to mention also in this piece that the Fulani colonial over Lords led by the legendary and aristocratic Muslim leader, Usman Dan Fodio later established the Sokoto Caliphate as the Spring board for the eventual Islamization of Northern Nigeria during the 17th century or there about.
Regrettably however, the present rampaging Fulani herdsmen as they are commonly referred to could not be said to be the same Fulani people who for centuries had been fully integrated and assimilated into the Housa-Fulani communities of Northern Nigeria and usually referred to as highly civilized and educated people who for long had been occupying sensitive positions in government as well as in the private sector of the nation's economy.
It is worthy of mention in this write up that these dangerous and violent elements referred to as Fulani herdsmen are well known normads who often travel with their cattle from far countries such as Sudan, Niger Republic, Chad, Cameroon and Central Africa Republic in search of grazing pastures for their cattle.
It is pertinent to emphasize also in this piece that these Fulani criminal elements have nothing in common whatsoever with the civilized and highly respected Fulanis of the present Northern Nigeria but regrettably they often use the Muslim religion simply as a smoke screen to always commit heinous crimes against their host communities in our dear country.
The Federal Government has both the statutory and moral obligation to quickly set into motion the necessary mechanism to checkmate the criminal activities of these undesirable elements causing devastating havoc on innocent citizens of the country. The Ekiti State example in dealing decisively with this national embarrassment could easily be replicated in other States where the Fulani herdsmen had been unleashing terrible mayhem and destruction on the people unabated with their sophisticated lethal weapons of destruction.
The country currently appears to be under siege occasioned by the multifarious security, and economic-cum political challenges and therefore could not afford to be further burdened by avoidable security threats such as the so-called Fulani herdsmen and their hidden agenda.
The Nigerian nation is already held down by the rather protracted Boko Haram insurgency in the North East region of the country as well as the devastating consequences of the Niger Delta militants who had largely succeeded in destroying the nation's oil facilities by the constant vandalization of the oil pipe lines which convey crude oil to its final destination for export. The recent activities of the Niger Delta militants no doubt, had dealt a devastating blow to the nation's fragile economy thereby rendering the country almost prostrate.
The authorities should therefore quickly read the hand writing on the wall and take prompt and decisive action in order to forestall the looming dangerous slide to self destruction and impending doom already staring the nation on her face.
In conclusion, it is the candid option of this writer therefore, that the Federal government owes the nation the sacred duty and obligation to quickly stem the dangerous tide by adopting the time tested and viable option of engagement with various aggrieved sections of the Nigerian community with a view to reaching a national consensus on the current endemic challenges confronting the nation. The country today is in complete turmoil caused by long standing injustices, criminal marginalization, inequality, mutual distrust and total disunity among the diverse ethnic nationalities that make up the entity called Nigeria. The time has now come to genuinely address these rather intractable problems which unfortunately had held down the country for too long and impeded her growth as well as greatly hindered her potentials as an economic super power within the African Continent and the world at large.
Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a regular Public Affairs Commentator and Analyst. He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu Anambra State.
28th September, 2016.