Plans by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to establish Fulani Youth Vigilante Group in the five South East states has been greeted by wide indignation.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB); Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and other Igbo groups, yesterday, rose against any such arrangement. Speaking at the South East Security Summit in Enugu on Thursday; President of the MACBAN, Alhaji Muhammadu Kirowa said that the Fulani youth outfit when established would work closely with security agencies, neighbourhood watch or local vigilante group to ensure the security of lives and property in all the communities.
“We can always assure the government of the cooperation of our leadership at both state and local levels in working together to fish out criminals from the society we live. We also call for the establishment of Fulani youth vigilante body who will be working with the security, the neighbourhood watch or vigilante in order to ensure security in all communities, as it was done in Enugu state.
“To the traditional rulers and people of the South East, we solicit for 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; and vice versa,” MACBAN stated.
But, in a swift reaction, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation has vehemently opposed any attempt by the herdsmen to further provoke Ndigbo in their land. President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo said that Ndigbo would do anything humanly possible to defend their land.
“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 AK47 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,” Nwodo stated. In the same hue, IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu also condemned the idea and warned South East Governors not to play into the hands of the enemy.
Kanu expressed shock that Fulani herdsmen who have been classified as the fourth worst terrorist group in the world were being allegedly aided by some persons in power to take over Igboland. He, therefore, warned that IPOB would resist any such move, noting that the boldness with which the MACBAN made the statement indicated the covered support of the Federal Government.
“Considering the weak and rambling response of Governor Dave Umahi to this criminal demand, we are certain these Southeast Governors have already granted this request; and in the unlikely event they have not, it’s highly probable that they will, albeit secretly.
In such event, I hereby warn Miyetti Allah, Southeast Governors and their collaborators in the Southeast and elsewhere in Nigeria that IPOB will not tolerate the establishment of any Fulani militia, masquerading as vigilantes, in Southeast or anywhere else in Biafraland.
“We recall that it is the stated intention of IPOB to set up vigilante services, otherwise known as Biafran Security Services (BSS) that was used as the immediate excuse by the same Southeast Governors to proscribe IPOB, whereupon they proceeded to invite the Government of Nigeria to declare IPOB a terrorist organisation, all of which culminated in the Python Dance that claimed scores of innocent Biafran lives.
We are eagerly waiting for Miyetti Allah and their Fulani terror militia in Biafraland, an adventure they will regret for as long as they live,” Kanu warned. On his part, another pro-Biafra leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu described the declaration of Miyetti Allah to set up a security outfit in the South East as a clear implementation of the systematic agenda of the federal government to forcefully Islamize the citizens of the Eastern and Middle Belt regions of the country.
Like Kanu, the MASSOB leader also alleged that Fulani herdsmen have the overwhelming backing of federal government. “For the Fulani to boldly issue this sacrilegious and abominable statement, proves that the establishment of their security vigilante is already in execution stage. They merely want to know the reactions of Ndigbo which will always be temporal noisemaking.
“In few weeks, the led federal government will establish a biased national paramilitary security body to assist police in combating crimes all over Nigeria, the Fulani as well will take over the leadership control of this newly created civilian police body both in national and state levels, they will be equipped and armed for the sole purpose of conquering Igbo land and other Christian dominated states,” Madu said.
MASSOB reiterated its earlier warning three years ago that until the Igbo political, traditional, religious leaders recognised the potencies of the pro-Biafra groups and engaged them on the security of lives and property of Ndigbo, Igbo land will continue to be playing field for the devourers of their people.
According to the MASSOB leader, South West leaders had never condemned or proscribed the activities of O’dua People’s Congress (OPC) or other Oduduwa pressure groups, instead they work with them for the general interest of Oduduwa land.
He said that even in the northern region, their leaders have never condemned the terrorist activities of Boko Haram and Miyetti Allah, but regretted that Igbo governors, senators, House of Representatives as well as state Assembly members were never bold enough.
Though MASSOB and other pro-Biafra groups are non-violent, he said that “we still have our own traditional means and mechanism to protect the lives and properties of the people of Biafra.”
Another prominent group, the Igbo Bu Igbo Foundation (IBI) warned Miyetti Allah not to take Ndigbo for granted because of the tacit support they reportedly get from some persons controlling levers of power in the region. Chancellor of IBI, Dr. Law Mefor described the MACBAN’s idea of setting up Fulani vigilance group in Igboland as an affront that must be resisted. He wondered how a visitor would want to provide security for a landlord stating that the motive was surreptitious and ill- intentioned.
“So, it is not as if Miyetti Allah is offering to fill a void. No. They plan to set up rival vigilante operations; which can confront the south easterners, right in their own backyards. This is preposterous and quite an affront,” he said.
Mefor noted that the Miyetti Allah was actually operating on borrowed time, as Nigerians would soon embrace ranching; which is globally acclaimed as the only modern way of cattle rearing. He alleged that all these antics were in desperate bid to keep their near exclusive business that they do without paying any tax to state and federal governments.
“Ranching is coming and sooner or later, State governments and private investors will go into ranching. It is an idea whose time has come!
Southeast governors must wake up and do two things: one is enact laws banning open grazing and set up ranches to be leased out to business managers and investors; and two, other southeast states should also emulate Anambra State and enact laws setting up, operationalizing and funding vigilantes in every town and city in their respective states, as part of community policing,” Mefor advised.