Is the North ready to end banditry and kidnapping? – By Prof Abdussamad Umar Jibia
“Wadannan shuwagabanni mun yi zaben tumun dare. Kada Allah Ya maimaita mana irinsu nan gaba (We chose the wrong leaders. May Allah not give us a repeat of their type in future)”.
That was the last statement made by one of my relations in a telephone conversation I had with him earlier today. Last night Kahiyal, a village near theirs was attacked and three herds consisting of more than forty cows of what remained of their cattle were moved by bandits. That was the third time in five days the criminals struck in their area in Bugaje ward of Jibia local Government. In the second attack they moved seven cows and in the first they rustled a combination of cows, sheep and whatever they could find.
What I didn’t ask my second nephew is whether he was aware that two weeks ago in a place called Abuja some 600 kilometers away from their village a grey-haired Minister of Police affairs told Nigerians that bandits have been degraded. The emphasis on grey hair is because our Holy Prophet enjoined us to respect it. But in our society of today there are many grey-haired people who are not ashamed of lying, a thing hated most by the Holy Prophet. Examples of such people are many in the present dispensation.
But grey-hair or not, when shall these things come to an end? And who are these bandits? Are they Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Fulani or CAN? The problem of banditry in Northern Nigeria has defied solution because of the high level of hypocrisy involved in the discussions about the identity of this criminal type. When Governor Ortom called for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah kautel hore association, accusing them of being behind crimes in Benue state, he was unanimously condemned as an enemy of Islam by the Muslim North. However, much later when CP Nagogo of Zamfara state accused Miyetti Allah of complicity in bandits’ activities in Zamfara state, everybody kept quite. In fact, instead of going to court to challenge the Police commissioner, Miyetti Allah decided to close it’s Zamfara state chapter “until further notice”.
Again, when Governor Masari of Katsina state signed the peace accord with the bandits’ leaders operating in Katsina state, all of them were Fulani. In fact, he repeatedly used the term, “Fulanin daji” to describe the bandits. Few months later, Katsina state Government openly withdrew from the pact accusing the leaders of breaching the agreement. To date, none of the leaders has been arrested.
Furthermore, a cross-section of people kidnapped in the North West testified that their kidnappers are of Fulani extraction. The famous Qur’anic reciter Mallam Ahmad Sulaiman is one of such people.
Despite all these evidences that point directly to where the problem is, many Northerners still believe in the conspiracy theory that it is some Christians from somewhere who are responsible for the banditry and kidnapping currently consuming the North. Some would say CAN or some foreigners from Mali. Others will still mention Jonathan or Obasanjo. A colleague of mine was saying it is Boko Haram and when I disagreed with him he became angry.
With this kind of attitude, how can our problem be over? Can’t we face our problem and solve it once for all? Nobody would say all Fulani are criminals. The President himself is Fulani. At least that is what he claims even though Fulani extremists would not recognize him as such since he doesn’t speak Fulfulde. The Sultan is Fulani and most of the emirs are Fulani. Among our politicians, businessmen, academics, etc. are Fulfulde-speaking Fulani who are contributing positively to the economy of the great Nigerian nation. For Allah’s sake, why can’t all these people come together to address this problem? Why should we continue to deceive ourselves because of a blind group solidarity? If my own son, may Allah forbid, gets out of the way and rob innocent people of their lives and property and attack their dignity, what is wrong in handing him over to face the law? Is it after all of us are dead that we remember this?
When I read the statement accredited to the Sultan lamenting the security situation in the North, I was disappointed. Was the Sultan not playing to the gallery? Is he not one of the patrons of Miyetti Allah? What did he do when the Fulani organization was being accused of complicity in crime? Did he disown it or did he investigate and found out that it was false? And by the way, why did he not meet Mr. President, a fellow Fulani for a frank discussion on this problem?
Let me ask. If we continue to blindly defend this Government despite the continuous deterioration of our security situation, what right do we have to complain if tomorrow a Southerner takes over and decides to abandon us even further? Is it not better to talk to ourselves and take the right action when our own is in charge?
Finally, what is preventing Mr. President from taking action? Those of us who are victims know that the medicine being applied is not the right one for the ailment. The president knows what to do. That he is not doing it is most unfortunate.
Abdussamad Umar Jibia