Thursday, 17 August 2017

By Anthony Chuka Konwea, P.E.: Negotiating under the influence...

Posted On Tuesday, 11 July 2017 02:14 Written by Anthony Chuka Konwea, P.E.
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Thurmond (not his real name), a white American construction worker who I met at a site a while ago lamented to me thus. “Look, the order of significance in America regarding human and other rights is children first, women second, pets such as dogs and cats third, and men last, if at all.”

I chewed this information for a while, decided after some reflection that perhaps there was some merit in it before countering thus. “Count yourself lucky Thurmond. In my country Nigeria, there are hardly any human rights at all, but the order of significance under the current Buhari Administration is Fulani herdsmen first, other Fulani men second, Fulani cattle third, Fulani women and girls fourth, Nigerian Muslims fifth, other supporters of the present administration sixth, and the rest last, if at all.”

“Where do you belong then?” he asked me inquisitively. “Well like yourself I belong to the ‘last or if at all’ category,” I replied honestly.  Thurmond my interlocutor ejaculated. “No you are further down the totem pole than myself. I thought my case was bad, but yours seems even worse. What can I say to you?  I can only thank God that I am an American. Sorry about that bro.” he said as he walked away, contemplatively shaking his head in sympathetic amazement.

Both Thurmond and myself have long since finished our respective jobs in the particular site where we met and have each moved on to other job site assignments. But if I happen to run into Thurmond again given what I have watched, seen and heard over the last couple of days I surely would have plenty to tell him.

Indeed, on January 20, 2017, some American protesters demonstrating against Donald Trump’s emergence as the 45th President of the United States were smashing windows a couple of blocks away from the Capitol Building where he took the oath of office. Yet the American police and security agents handled the situation most professionally. A number of arrests, at the last unofficial count 217 persons, were made, but to the best of my knowledge there were no severe injuries or fatalities.

A much bigger anti-Trump demonstration the so-called Women’s March on Washington D.C. took place on January 21, 2017 and went off successfully. Similar demonstrations against Donald Trump took place in several cities and towns within the US and many cities around the world with unconfirmed reports estimating that as many as 3 million people participated worldwide. But apparently all these global demonstrations went on smoothly without any significant untoward incident of police brutality, demonstrators’ injury or possibly fatality.

The sole global exception apparently is Nigeria where a peaceful demonstration which held at Port Harcourt on January 20, 2017, in support of Donald Trump by members of peaceful separatist groups, led by the  Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), was broken up by the Nigerian police and other security agents with extreme violence including the use of live bullets leading by some media eye witness accounts to the possible loss of about 11 lives (IPOB claims 20 fatalities), gunshot injuries to about 70 persons and about 200 persons missing or still unaccounted for.

A violent approach to managing the peaceful exercise of dissenters’ fundamental human rights has been the hallmark of the apparently blood-thirsty Buhari Administration which has continuously met the peaceful demonstrations of non-Fulani Nigerians particularly the neo-Biafrans and Nigeria’s Shiite Muslim community with savage acts of brutality and denied many Nigerians particularly the aforementioned peaceful groups their fundamental human rights of freely and publicly expressing their views.

It should be pointed out that not all of the radical separatist views of IPOB are shared by many Nigerians including Igbos for that matter. Nonetheless provided their approach is peaceful and non-violent, it is within the realm of their fundamental human rights to engage in free speech, peaceful public demonstrations and free association with other aggrieved Nigerians of like minds.

However, at the same time, the very same Buhari Administration has turned a blind eye to and perhaps passively instigates or covertly supports the terroristic activities of segments of his own Fulani ethnic group who under the guise of nomadic cattle rearing, engage in expansionist land grab activities, outside the Fulani traditional ethnic homeland. These expansionist activities are actively propped up by State coercive and non-coercive organs. The sum total of this assured State support is the mindless slaughter of anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 innocent non-Fulani peasant Nigerian citizens across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

Recent major hotspots of the terroristic Fulani aggression against bona fide citizens of Nigeria leading to the loss of many lives under President Buhari’s watch include Agatu in Benue State where the official local government count indicates that more than 3,000 lives were lost during the carnage while 2,000 lives were subsequently lost in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps due to the criminal neglect of traumatized displaced Agatu indigenes by the Federal and State Authorities. Other local government areas of Benue State have hardly fared better.

 In Southern Kaduna State about 808 lives (according to the Catholic Church records) were lost recently due to the terroristic activities of Fulani Herdsmen. Last year in Enugu State many lives running into double digits were reportedly lost when the terroristic Fulani Herdsmen extended their murderous rampage to that area. The murderous carnage of terroristic Fulani cattle herdsmen has been felt in Delta State, Ondo State, Oyo State, and Rivers State among others.

In none of these cases has President Muhammadu Buhari personally, openly, unequivocally and in a timely manner, sympathized with the victims of his kinsmen’s terrorist rampages. Where the Administration has been forced by public and mostly international outcry to commiserate with the victims, meaningless sympathies not backed by a resolute determination to fish out the perpetrators of these heinous terrorist actions, have been expressed belatedly and half-heartedly through paid media assistants and public relations advisers.  

Instead what has been witnessed is an all-out government effort to seize by any means possible, including through the proposed unorthodox engagement of the Nigerian Army in cattle ranching, the landed territory of ethnic sub-nationalities across the length and breadth of Nigeria with the barely disguised intention of forcibly transferring same down the road to the terroristic Fulani herdsmen as grazing lands which they would hold onto in perpetuity without paying royalties or acknowledging their tenant status in such lands.

Now as many Nigerian ethnicities who have hosted Fulani settlements in their ethnic homelands freely attest, the current generation of nomadic Fulani cattle herders are no more the good neighbors’ previous generations used to be. Armed to the teeth with offensive weapons including sub-machine guns in flagrant disregard of and disobedience to extant Nigerian Laws, the current Fulani herdsmen engage in criminal and subversive acts of rape, murder, armed robbery and wanton destruction of the cultivated lands of whichever community is unlucky enough to be their immediate unwilling hosts.

Any attempt to challenge them results in the kind of murderous onslaughts witnessed in Agatu, Southern Kaduna and other areas enumerated above. The Fulani terroristic herdsmen strut the length and breadth of the nation like proud colorful peacocks adorned with bullet straps, amulets and sophisticated weapons, answerable to nobody and held in awe by all and sundry, military, security forces and civilians alike.  

Since the emergence of the Buhari Adminstration, an additional swagger has been noticed in their comportment. Governors of States where carnages have taken place are not immune from the general intimidation of the populace by terroristic Fulani herdsmen. Many State Governors apart from the Governor of Ondo State, Ayodele Fayose, have been reduced to empty weeping vessels or pitiable castrated objects cowering in the face of terroristic Fulani bravado.

Recently thousands of peasant women in Delta State, fearful for their lives and aggrieved at the loss of personal security in their farmlands, their only source of livelihood, took to the streets in their thousands and blocked the Warri-Port Harcourt express way which is the major highway linking the two major commercial cities in the Niger Delta region. The women lamented about incessant cases of violent rape and murder in their farmlands perpetrated on a daily basis by terroristic Fulani herdsmen. The aggrieved women vowed that they would not evacuate the highway until they were personally addressed by the Governor of Delta State. It is uncertain if the Delta State Governor, the designated Chief Security Officer of the State, who may have been otherwise engaged, responded to their request, by honoring them with his physical presence in order to personally reassure them of their personal safety and security in their farmlands.

For their part, to their credit and in an unmistakably mark of their supreme confidence in their invincibility, the terroristic Fulani Herdsmen have serially owned up to their terrorist actions. Reacting under the canopy of their umbrella body, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeding Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) of which President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a cattle rearer is the Grand Patron, they have never denied their involvement in all the genocidal carnages, not associated with the renowned and distinct Boko Haram terrorist group, which Nigeria has witnessed in recent times and particularly under the Buhari Adminstration. What they have repeatedly said is that their genocidal activities are reprisal attacks for the loss of their cattle and sometimes members to cattle rustlers from the host communities.

Indeed, it is some State Governors mostly of Fulani origin, particularly the Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai (a prominent member of President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet and reputed as his potential successor), who have been spinning the narrative that the terroristic Fulani elements causing mayhem in Nigeria are non-Nigerian Fulani migrating into Nigeria to cause havoc from far-flung countries like Niger, Mali, Chad etc.

This disingenuous explanation raises more serious questions than it answers. Firstly, what is the motivation behind the eagerness of the Nigerian Government authorities to extricate Nigerian Fulani herdsmen whose leadership is well-known by all and sundry, from their self-confessed responsibility for genocidal acts in Nigeria and transfer the responsibility for these very same acts to unknown and unknowable non-Nigerian Fulani herdsmen? Is it to shield them from the long hands of the Law as perpetrators and shield themselves as instigators?

Secondly, assuming but not conceding that the Nigerian Government officials implicating non-Nigerian Fulanis in these genocidal acts are correct in their narrative, is it not a culpable humongous admission of failure for Government to admit that foreigners came from outside Nigeria into Nigeria, to kill bona fide Nigerian citizens and the governments at State and Federal levels are not able to identify, arrest or extradite these foreign elements and bring them to justice?

Granted that the President is the Chief Security Officer of the Nation, who collects humongous, un-retire-able amounts of money daily, weekly or monthly as the case may be from the National Treasury in the name of Security Vote, and yet is unable to provide security for Nigerians, is this not enough cause to call for the President’s resignation, or impeachment or replacement as Chief Security Officer? The same applies to the State Governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their own States. Do Nigerians through their elected representatives not have a right to know how and why so much money is voted for Security in the nation and yet there is no security at all?

By the way, it is our view that the legality of the so-called Security Vote be investigated under the tenets of the Nigerian Constitution. If it is legal, there should be more transparency in its utilization, if found to be otherwise and to be based solely on precedence it should be scrapped immediately and the money directly remitted to the heads of the various security agencies who would then be held publicly accountable for the breakdown of law and order anywhere in Nigeria.

Coming back to the self-acknowledged complicity of Nigerian Fulanis in the terroristic acts of genocide in Nigeria, assuming but not conceding that these actions were provoked by cattle rustling and killing of their members, who and what gave the terroristic Fulani Herdsmen the right and audacity to administer instant justice in Nigeria without recourse to the established Judicial Authorities?

No Nigerian citizen has the right to administer justice on other human beings in Nigeria, citizen or non-citizen alike, without recourse to the established organs of the Judicial system. No amount of provocation, including the purported willful murder of its members and stealing of its cattle by elements of their host communities confers on the Fulanis of Nigeria the right to take the laws into their own hands and administer terroristic justice as they deem fit.

That the terroristic Fulani herdsmen routinely bypass the established channels of securing redress including reporting criminal matters to the Police and presenting their complaints before the Law Courts, is indicative of the amount of disdain and contempt in which they hold the Nigerian State. Yet this same Nigerian State acting under the direction of unpatriotic Fulanis in power, attempts to shield them by all means possible from the long hands of the law while subjecting other non-Fulani Nigerians especially IPOB members and Shiite Muslims to violent reprisals for actions and activities permitted under the Law.   

It is this disdain for the law, which is aided and abetted by actions of commission or omission in the highest levels of Government that is ultimately responsible for all the recent acts of genocide committed in Nigeria by terroristic Fulani herdsmen in their desperate expansionist grab for land outside their traditional ethnic domain. For these genocidal acts, their sponsors now very clearly exposed and identified by all shall be held accountable someday either by man or by God.

It is in the context of this injustice, daily crying to God for vengeance, that the so-called peace pact; recently struck between the King of Agatu people and their terroristic Fulani invaders; which pact cedes Agatu land to the very same Fulani elements who decimated them; and which pact was recently signed between the King of Agatu and the Fulani in the presence of the Governors of Benue State and Nassarawa State and some of which details were exposed by the Local Government Chairman of Agatu; should be recognized by all and sundry for what it truly is.

This so-called pact is an act of coercion of the hapless peasant Agatu people by terroristic Fulani herdsmen using the very same intimidating instruments of State which they willfully ignored before proceeding on their terroristic rampage. Peace is a very good thing. But peace must be accompanied by justice and the terms of any peace must be freely and democratically accepted by a majority of Agatu people freely exercising their will.

The terms of this peace must not be dictated to the Agatu victims through the auspices of their King and Local Government Chairman ostensibly negotiating on their behalf under the influence of State Government duress, their personal goodwill notwithstanding. In addition, while seeking peace the State must also administer justice by impartially investigating and addressing all acts of criminality including bringing the so-called Agatu elements who purportedly stole Fulani cattle before the Agatu carnage (if they are still alive) to justice. The state must also round up and bring all the members of the terroristic Fulani herdsmen community and their sponsors who planned and executed the so-called Agatu reprisal carnage to justice. The same should apply to all the cases of terroristic carnage in Nigeria.

The Nigerian State must summon the will and courage to subject the terroristic Fulani herdsmen to its judicial authority.  To do otherwise is to kick the can of justice further down the road and sow the seeds for the next round of carnage in the foreseeable future.

Anthony Chuka Konwea, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, MNSE, FNIStructE, MNICE.

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Read 69 times Last modified on Tuesday, 11 July 2017 02:25

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