Frederick Odorige addresses the Sultan of Sokoto: Stop the killing by herdsmen

Your eminence, there is fire on the mountain!

There is fire on the mountain!!

I wish to base my address today on the speech you made at the October 2011 seminar, where you were a special guest speaker at the Divinity School of the Harvard University. That seminar was titled: Nigeria and the World Seminar: The role of traditional Nigerian leaders in Governance.

You eloquently said that „One of the most important duty we feel we must do to our people is to ensure their total development, and you cannot develop without good health. We also must ensure that there is peace wherever we are; and you cannot develop without peace… the people so much trust believe and trust in us. ..talking about security and peace, my passion for peace happen to come from my military background having spent 31 years of my life as a soldier ; and I am still a soldier because I still have so many battles in life to fight to ensure a free and safer world”

Your Eminence, the current genocide by herdsmen is, evidently, one of such battles that you still need to fight for your motherland. You have fought several wars, but you cannot afford to lose this battle. There is no gainsaying the obvious fact your patrilineal ancestry positively shaped the face of modern Nigeria.

I believe that you are one person that could call these herdsmen to order and they will listen. As a military tactician who retired as a Brigadier General, your enviable military track record puts you in a better stead to intervene in the massacre of Nigerians by the herdsmen allegedly operating under the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) the premier pastoralist body in the country.

You headed a presidential security unit of the Armoured Corps that guarded the then military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida in the late 1980s. You commanded a battalion of African peacekeepers in Chad in the 1980s. Permit me to summarize your many national and international military accomplishments by simply referring to you, without exaggeration, as a military Commander of Commanders!

Islam is a religion of peace. It does not permit the raping of women, killing of persons and burning of farmlands. Some evil people hide under a good cause to do evil.

It is even more important to address you on this issue because the herdsmen are, allegedly, muslims from the northern parts of Nigeria, or in other words, they mostly claim to be muslims. However, we know that there are muslims, and there are muslims. There has been speculations by many Nigerians, that the murderous and violent l activities of the herdsmen are one of the hidden agendas to islamize Nigeria.

The terrorist herdsmen fear Sharia law more than they fear Allah. That is why they migrate far away from the 12 Northern states where Sharia law is practised to comit their various evil activities in other parts of the country where Sharia law does not operate. The herdsmen are killing other Nigerians; they are burning farmlands; they are raping women and they are kidnapping senselessly.

These ones are bringing bad name to Islam as a religion and they contribute to the growth of Islamophobia. They must not be allowed to continue in their nefarious activities. In the words of  President Buhari in August 2016,  „any muslim that shout ‘Allah is great’ while committing murder is mentally unbalanced. It is either they do not know the meaning of those words or they are simply deranged”.

Your Eminence, the herdsmen have left credibility dent and brought tearful embarrassment to the peaceful Islamic faith. You cannot afford to allow this denigration and desecration to continue.

Lets ask the pertinent question: will anybody from any other part of Nigeria, from any other religion, go to any part of Northern Nigeria to CONSISTENTLY SLAUGHTER PEOPLE, RAPE WOMEN AND BURN FARMLANDS? It will never happen! So why are they doing this to the rest of us? Why?

  1. As a military officer, the current Nigerian military outfit need to tap from your experience. They need to be invited to the palace for your counsel. For example, the hot exchange of words and altercations by the Minister of Defence and the Inspector General of Police on one side and the Governor of Benue State on the other hand, does not augur well for the enthronment of peace in the troubled region. Three of them have their tight security escorts. The rest of our people do not have.

 

  1. As a leader of traditional rulers in Nigeria, all Emirs, district heads, ward heads, and other traditional title holders must be brought together to design a template that will guarantee peace in our country. You have done this before, but a more concerted and sustainable effort has to be employed at this precarious point. That template must restrict cattle owners from giving weapons of war to herdsmen. Local vigilante groups should ensure that no herdsman passes through their territory with ammunitions. Traditional rulers are well respected and that is why they must not be involved in politics but to be more concerned in being custodians of our traditions and customs.

 

All local and national leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria should regularly be summoned for meetings with you to discuss and implement ways to ensure peaceful co-existence between their herdsmen and local communities. Do the herdsmen kill, rape women or burn farmlands in the core North like Sokoto, Nigeria, and others? So why are they doing this to the rest of us? We are surprised that though the DSS interrogated Pastors for making statements considered inciting or inflammatory to their congregation, the DSS refused to invite and interrogate some leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association for making inflammatory statements that support  the herdsmen behind the heinous crimes of these intermittent killings.

 

The wanton spread of hate speech by the spokesperson of the Northern Elders’ Forum Prof. Ango Abdulahi who is now the Chairman Board of Trustee of the Forum, is unguided, divisive, anti-nationalistic, uncouth and capable of inciting national violence. It calls for serious concern especially coming from a former Vice Chancellor of a Federal University attended by students from all parts of the country. The characters of Ango are the types that see nothing good in the unity of Nigeria. Ango Abdulahi is synonymous with hate speech in Nigeria. Recall that he backed a statement by the Arewa Youths asking the Igbo to leave the North on or before October 1, 2017. In February 2018 Ango Abdullahi said that the herdsmen menace is politically motivated by the South to disrupt the politically- united North ahead of the 2019 general elections. What arrant nonsense! He justified the horrifying carnage and genocide committed by herdsmen. He went further to say that the herdsmen are only defending themselves. Herdsmen defending themselves against harmless women in their farms, by raping them? Has rape become a weapon of defence? Now that you have become a farmer, Ango Abdullahi, our prayer for you is this: May your mother not be killed or raped in your farm; may your wife or wives not be killed or raped in your farm; may your daughters and daughters-in-law not be killed or raped in your farm; may your sisters not be killed or raped in your farm!!

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